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The Wild Feathers Prepare for Birmingham's Avondale Brewery November 6, 2020 17:22

Photo by Rachel Moore

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Nashville's The Wild Feathers are gearing up for a big return to Avondale Brewing Company on Friday, November 13th. This band is certainly no stranger to the Birmingham, as their extensive history has led them to just about every stage the city has to offer over the past ten years. This particular show is presented by none other than Big Friendly Productions, so you can rest assured that this will be a top notch occasion in every aspect. 

Having shared the stage with musical icons such as Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, and Bob Segar, The Wild Feathers are guaranteed to deliver a dynamic performance for the Birmingham faithful. With indoor shows being few and far between, as well as cold weather right around the corner, music fans don't want to miss this opportunity for one more outdoor show.

As we look ahead this one, we caught up with Joel King (bass/vocals) to learn a little more about how the band has been fighting their way through the pandemic, a new album due out later this month, and much more. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to click here to secure your tickets while supplies last.

Share this article directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page + tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this show. We will announce the winner at 10AM on Thursday, November 12.

Let's start off with some general background info on the band. You guys have been at it for about ten years now, right?
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Joel: Yeah. We've been on the streets for about ten years. Well, we started around 2010 with me, Ricky (Young), and Taylor (Burns) writing a lot of the songs that came out on the first record. We kind of got together just to write songs and see if we could do this thing. You know, multiple singers, kind of like The Band or Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. It's progressed from there, and the band has definitely evolved. The sound has changed a little here and there, but it's pretty much all rock and roll.
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Very cool. So, you got started in 2010. You guys are based out of Nashville, right?
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Joel: Yeah.
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Was it soon thereafter that the band started expanding beyond the Nashville scene and hitting all of the Southeastern markets?
 
Joel: Yeah man. When we first started, we had a production deal in LA. So, we flew out there and cut a bunch of songs. We get back here, and decide we aren't going to tour like we did with our old bands. I'll be damned if that's exactly what we did. (laughs). Our booking agent gave us some really great advice to do a residency tour. Every Monday, we played Memphis. On Tuesday, we were in Nashville. Wednesday would be Birmingham. I think we played The Nick about 1000 times. Thursday would be Atlanta.
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We had a routine where we did it for a little over a month. We were playing every day of the week with maybe one day off. We did this residency tour for a month or so, just to be out there. Playing as much as we could. That was really when we started "touring" a lot. We did some runs here and there, but once we did that, things started happening.
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We got on a few other awesome tours, and the rest is history. Paul Simon asked us to come open for him for maybe six or seven dates. That was a real dream come true. After that, we signed a record deal and all of that other stuff.
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Wow. What point in time were the Paul Simon shows?
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Joel: I think that was 2012? It was 2011 or 2012. I can't remember which. It was one of the two.
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I can only imagine how big of a deal that was.
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Joel: Oh yeah, man. It was pretty crazy. That was obviously a major boost. We had to price match our CDs with his. We only had a four-song EP, which we recorded ourselves, at the time. We had to sell them for like $20, because that's what he sold his albums for. (laughs). And ours were burned CDs from our own computer. So, it was pretty interesting. It really set us on course though.
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We ended up playing with so many legacies. We played a bunch of times with Willie (Nelson), Bob Dylan, and as of last year, the last tour we did was with Bob Segar about a year ago. So, we've kind of been in that legacy mode ever since the beginning. Maybe that's because it's a throwback sound or whatever. I don't really want to call it a throwback. I'd probably call it a "bring back." It's just guitars, drums, singing, and what I call "regular music." (laughs).
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Well, you guys were obviously doing something right from the get go. Finding yourselves in an opportunity to support so many long-standing musical icons. Not many bands can say that. That's amazing.
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Joel: Oh yeah, man. We got to meet many of our heroes.
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I wanted to ask you specifically about this year. It's obviously been a tremendous challenge for all of us, with the music industry being no exception. Tell me about where you guys were and how did COVID-19 affect the band early on. How have you managed to navigate through it thus far?
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Joel: At the time, we weren't really doing much. We were planning the "Spirit of the South" tour with Blackberry Smoke, The Allman Betts Band, and a few others. There was gonna be a big jam at the end. It was gonna be a really cool, amphitheater-type tour. Even The Big House in Macon was planning to have a museum exhibit. It was shaping up to be a big, summer-long tour.It was scheduled for about two months. We were so stoked to do that. It was going to be a whole bunch of fun.
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We were doing some recording and a bunch of other prep stuff when COVID hit. We couldn't really go in the studio and weren't really trying to be around anyone, so that's when we decided to compile the rarities and B-sides record. The tour got rescheduled for 2021, so it's still going to happen. We had contemplated this record for a long time. We're no longer with Warner Brothers, so we kind of do whatever we want, which is really great. For each record, we'll write 30 or 40 songs and narrow it down to 15 or 16. Then, we end up cutting and releasing maybe 12.
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So, we have a few extra for placements and all of that. Every record has a couple of extra songs. We have a few of the covers we have done. We have maybe three songs that we had already done in the studio and produced ourselves. We decided we could put a cap on this, ten years in, and call it Medium Rarities. It's kind of like of Nirvana has Incesticide. Every band tends to have "that record," with a lot of B-sides.
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We decided, "why not us?" That's kind of how we remedied the COVID situation. We knew we needed to release something, but we couldn't really get in to record. We could have probably started recording, but we wouldn't have been ready to release it by now. So, we got everything mastered and put the whole package together. It was pretty cool to see it come together.
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The first track is from 2010, when we recorded a demo for Interscope Records, which signed us and dropped us within six months. That was a cover of "Blue" by The Jayhawks. That's one of our favorite songs. We recorded it at Sound City Studios out in Los Angeles. It was awesome, but we never had a chance to release it. We got to a point where it felt like it was too old.
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Until the rarities thing came along. We thought it was kind of cool for everyone to hear all of this unreleased stuff. Some friends of ours asked us, "Why didn't you just release this as a regular record?" We like to make records that flow and have an identity. We felt like we should preface it by calling it Medium Rarities.
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Listen to The Wild Feather's latest single, "My Truth," here:
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What a neat way to dig back in the archives and find a way to utilize material that already existed that just hadn't found its way out to public yet.
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Joel: It's kind of like doing your homework early. You have all of the songs in the back of your head, and you felt like they were good. It's not like the B-sides were crappy tunes. Actually, it's because if we have two or three songs that sound similar, in the same meter, we'll end up going with the ones that fit with the flow of the record.
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With this record, it's not like, "Well, here's the crappiest songs we've got." We're pretty proud of them.It's nice to finish them and get them out, because they're always in the back of your mind. "We should release that one day." And then, you just never do it. You know? That's been a pretty cool sense of accomplishment.
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I'm sure. You've got to find some silver linings somewhere during such a challenging year. It seems like 2020 provided the proper avenue to finally share this music with the world.
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Joel: Absolutely. We're trying to look at the bright side there. Also, before this, we never thought anyone could take away our ability to play live. We thought, "We'll always be able to play live." Then all of this happens and just like that, the live show is gone. It'll be back though.
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It will be back. It's been great to see certain outdoor venues adapt for socially distanced shows. On that note, you guys obviously have a show coming up at Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Friday, November 13th. They're really doing a phenomenal job of creating a safe environment for artists and fans alike. It's definitely a reduced capacity, but it's allowing so many people the chance to work again.
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Joel: Oh, I know, man. That's a blessing. The Blackberry Smoke guys took us out for a run of shows a few weeks ago. Most of them were ballparks with spray painted circles and all of that. I'll take anything. If I saw some people at the park, I'd be ok with setting up and playing, as long as everyone is spread out and doing their thing. It's not like Beatlemania when we play (laughs).
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Speaking of the Birmingham show, I know you mentioned playing The Nick early on. I was curious to hear more about the band's history in the market.
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Joel: Birmingham has been great to us. I think last time we played Saturn, which is an amazing venue. That place is great. We've played Avondale two or three times, which was awesome. Weather permitting, always. We've also played Iron City and WorkPlay. We've really played all over Birmingham. It's also so close to home. We always joke that we never get to stay in Birmingham and hang out. We're always headed to the next city, or it's the day before we're getting home to Nashville. They've got Hattie B's down there too now. (laughs).
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That's true. The city has really blown up in recent years. The music scene is really thriving. They have some of the best restaurants in the southeast. While this year has been especially tough on the entertainment and hospitality industries, we just have to remain confident that we'll all get through it on the other side.
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Joel: Yeah I know. One thing about it is that some bands don't want to take the risk of playing any shows at all, while others aren't as concerned. We're just evaluating each opportunity as we get them. Once it gets too cold to play outside, packing into a venue just isn't an option right now. We've got to play these socially distant, outdoor shows while we can.
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That's a great point. We're getting close to that point. Before we wrap up, I was hoping you could share what's on the horizon for the band, aside from the new album and the rescheduled tour dates.
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Joel: I think what we're gonna do during all of this off time is haul up in a cabin and record a record out there. Just totally vibe out and make a vibey record. I think all of our records have been very well thought out. We usually go out to a cabin beforehand, hammer out all of the details, then head to a studio. We're thinking, since we don't have anywhere to be, maybe we'll just get a whole bunch of recording gear, head out to a cabin, capture a bunch of video footage, and make a record while we have the time. Gotta live the dream.
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That sounds like a great idea. Put yourself in the right atmosphere and tap into those creative channels. See what happens.
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Joel: That's right. Let ourselves be positive and productive with all of the rigamarole going on. (laughs)
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Tom Galloway Releases Sophomore Album 'Rearview' October 20, 2020 14:17

Nashville, TN (October 16th, 2020) - Americana rocker and singer/songwriter, Tom Galloway, just released his second solo effort entitled, “Rearview.” The 6 song EP features previously released singles from this year as well as brand new songs “Let it Play,” “Rearview,” & “Lazy Days.” The album flows intentionally well from start to finish and shows strong diversity of his songwriting, both in lyrics and composition. With a powerful band, empathetic lyrics, and unique vocals and harmonies, this record maintains both a refreshing yet timeless vibe. Recorded at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, the record also includes special guests from Moon Taxi, LadyCouch, CBDB, & Sicard Hollow.

“This album was such a pleasure to create. In retrospect, I believe the overall theme of this record deals with the destructive and redemptive aspects of love, both gained and lost, as well as the importance of self-worth and forward positive motion. It’s tempting to look back in the rearview at memories and illusions of the past, but focusing on the present and the road ahead is the answer.”

Stream Tom Galloway's new album 'Rearview' here:

About Tom Galloway:

Born in Georgia, raised in Texas, and currently writing songs in Nashville, TN, Galloway combines roots of Americana, country, and rock, to form a unique blend of expression and storytelling. Developing his craft for years, strong hooks, captivating lyrics, and compelling music have been his mission. Since 2008, he has toured the country extensively as the principal songwriter and front man for the rock bands Mama’s Love, Maradeen, and Stampede. He released his debut solo record, Cross Currents, in 2018. Now with his sophomore record set to release he continues to perform, record, and strive for timeless music.

For more information, visit www.tomgalloway.net and connect with Tom on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify.

Recent Press:

"A darker strand of country music...Galloway's voice is warm and smooth, but the timbre is even lovelier when sung in harmony. Galloway clearly has his own take on country/bluegrass, and we're here for it" - The Deli Magazine

"Galloway has been a staple in the southeastern music scene over the past decade. While many know Galloway as the frontman of rock bands Mama's Love and Maradeen, his latest work portrays a fresh yet diverse look into the artist's catalog...Combining the sounds of americana, alt-country, and southern rock, Cross Currents provides a tasteful blend of nostalgic, conspicuous tracks that make for an excellent listen from start to finish" - Live & Listen

"The music sounds free, open and vast...Rock oriented but steeped heavily in Americana... Take for instance the opener 'Wild Bird'...The song is simultaneously warm, nostalgic and joyful." - Divide & Conquer

"Drawing from the penmanship of writers such as Robert Hunter, I look forward to witnessing the growth of this songwriter" -Flagpole Magazine

"Right away you sense the comfort of a southern twang without being overbearingly country...mixed with creative riffs and poetic lyrics" - BreakThru Radio

"Good melodies with smooth, yet smoky vocals" - Music News Nashville


Big Something's Nick MacDaniels Discusses New Album & COVID-19 October 8, 2020 12:29

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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North Carolina-based jam rockers Big Something are gearing up for the release of their sixth studio album, Escape, on Friday, October 9th. Produced by John Custer and the band at Ovation Sound in Winston-Salem, ‘Escape’ showcases the evolution of the band’s signature sound and their diverse range of songs. In a year of unmeasured uncertainty, this release calls for an extra dose of celebration, and we couldn't be happier to help shine a light. 
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To celebrate the release of the new record, Big Something will premiere a video album listening party on Thursday October 8th followed by a FREE multi-cam virtual concert on Friday October 9th that will air across multiple platforms including Live & Listen, NUGS TV, Live for Live Music, YouTube and more.
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Earlier this week, we caught up with Nick MacDaniels (guitar/vocals) to discuss all of the details on Escape, how the band continues to navigate  through the COVID-19 pandemic, and everything in between. See below for the full conversation, and make sure to head to the band's official store to order your copy today.
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This has obviously been a crazy year. From what I recall, Big Something had just wrapped up the Royal Rumble tour with Andy Frasco when everything started to cancel. Tell me about how that time period played out for the band.
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Nick: We had just gotten home, and that's when everything first started happening. So luckily for us, we were able to finish that tour. And that was one of the most fun and most successful tours we've ever had, so it was really crazy to go from that right into quarantine a couple weeks later. We had so many friends that were still on the road, and then had to cancel everything. It sounded like a nightmare. We were pretty lucky actually, but it was still super disappointing. This was shaping up to be a huge year for us. We were so excited for our first time at Bonnaroo, our annual festival, The Big What?, and so many other awesome shows we had lined up.  
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The new album was actually ready to go too and we planned on releasing it much earlier, but once everything shut down we decided to wait to release it until we could tour again. Then we slowly realized we might not be able to tour again anytime soon so it gave us something to focus on and look forward to while touring isn't an option. 
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I can only imagine how disappointing that was. I know it's been years since you had this much time off of the road. What has life been like for you and the band? How have you been occupying all of this new found time?
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Nick: It kind of happened in phases. I think it's been that way for a lot of people. Initially, it was a lot of down time at home, which was nice. We spent so much time on the road before all this that home life kind of fell by the wayside. It was great to spend more time with my girlfriend and our cat Teddy who gradually became famous during our live streams (lol). It was also fun having one band member at a time come over for our "live from the living room" sessions. It's been different, for sure. We've had to adjust to this new frontier, but it's also allowed us to learn new things and focus on some stuff we don't normally have time for. 
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I'm glad to hear there have been some silver linings. Tell me about the recent live stream series, Escape from the Living Room, which wraps up in correlation with the album release on Friday. 
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Nick: Well once we realized we wouldn't be able to tour we decided to make the recording studio our homebase for writing music and hosting live streams. Our good friend Bill Stevens at Ovation Sound was super awesome about letting us come in and pretty much take over his studio for months. And it was really nice to have a creative space to call home during all this craziness. Our last show in front of people was in February and our first practice together after that was at the end of July so that was the longest we'd ever gone without playing together by far.
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Our first practice in July was pretty funny too. We would all start playing the songs and then forget which parts were coming up next. We train wrecked so many times (laughs). It was kinda like learning how to walk again, and even though it took us a little while to get our musical chops back, I feel like everyone has really stepped up and taken things to the next level while we've been at home. Jesse has been on fire during these streams. It's really been inspiring to see all of the guys putting in the extra work. It's been very therapeutic for us to have this extra time to just focus on the music. 
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As far as our live stream series goes, we saw a lot of bands doing pay-per-view streams, where people have to pay to watch. That was honestly the last thing we wanted to do during a pandemic. We wanted anyone who wanted to watch to be able to watch, but we also had to figure out a way to pay our crew and cover all the production expenses. So, it was kind of a risk making ours free to watch, but I love how it turned out.  Everyone has been super supportive with their donations, and for us, the main thing we wanted was to be able to keep playing music in a safe way, and to make it accessible for anyone who needs live music in their life right now. 
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Check out Big Something's official video for "Dangerous" here:
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That's a great mentality to have, especially considering how hard you guys have been hit. Let's talk a little bit about Escape, which is scheduled for release on Friday, October 9th.
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Nick: This was a really fun album to make and also really helped us grow as a band. We started recording last summer, long before the pandemic started happening. We had the album title, Escape, already picked out. All of the songs are kind of related to that theme in one way or another. It's a concept that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Sometimes positive; you're escaping from things that are holding you down or holding you back. Sometimes negative; escaping from reality in a way that's not healthy. That was the inspiration behind the album concept, then the pandemic hits and 2020 turns into what feels like the apocalypse at times, and the album title kind of takes on a whole new meaning. 
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It was also our first album since our lyricist, Paul Interdonato, passed away. So that was very difficult, but also kind of therapeutic for me. A lot of these songs are the first ones I tried to write or finish without him, and it took me a really long time to get to a point where I could do that. The last song we ever wrote together, "Machines," is on there so the whole project definitely has a special place in my heart.
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I would imagine so. Over the last month or so, you've released four singles from the album. We've had a chance to hear "Heavy," "Dangerous," "Time Bomb," and "The Breakers." Will there be any material that has not been played during the recent streams?”
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Nick: I think there are a couple that our fans haven't heard yet. One of them is a reprise of "Heavy," which is basically a funky demo version of that song. Josh (Kagel) also wrote a meditational interlude that we haven't played live yet. We'll be performing all of this at our virtual album release show on Friday for the first time ever. 
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So, this Friday wraps up the Escape from The Living Room series. Everyone will have a chance to keep the new album in heavy rotation. How do you see the rest of this year and 2021 panning out? There is obviously a lot of uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of touring. 
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Nick: I would say that the whole experience of this year has been really inspiring. Through all the ups and downs, there is a lot of inspiration that can be drawn from what's going on in the world right now. Personally, I'd like to focus on taking some of that and incorporating it into more new music. We still have no idea when we're going to be able to tour again. We have some fun plans for a virtual Halloween show. We're looking into doing our first drive in shows. 
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We've been really skeptical about playing in front of audiences. The information out there is always changing. We really want to focus on keeping everyone safe and out of unnecessary harm. That's the general idea. As things change, we'll certainly roll with the punches. We're in a good place right now, and we'll continue to stay flexible with what's going on. 
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Before we wrap this up, I did want to ask you about the passing of Eddie Van Halen yesterday. Tell me about the impact and influence that he made on you as guitarist. 
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Nick: I honestly didn't get into Van Halen until I was a little bit older. I was actually just listening to Van Halen 'One' on vinyl the other day. He's had such a huge impact on guitarists and rock n roll music in general that it's hard to put into words. Trey Anastasio's post earlier today really summed it up perfectly. He's just one of those guitar gods. It seemed so effortless for him. Guitar was an extension of his person. That kind of larger than life musicianship is always super inspiring. We've lost so many great musicians throughout this year. Toots (Hibbert), John Prine, and Bill Withers...those all hit me pretty hard too. It's been such a crazy year, but it's been great to see so many people celebrate and honor their musical legacy. 
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That's the truth. Well, it's been great chatting with you today. As a big fan of the band, I couldn't be happier to see you guys continuing to adapt throughout such a difficult year. There are so many of us pulling for you guys, and we will certainly be ready when the band is able to hit the stage again. 
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Nick: Thanks so much, Jordan. I look forward to the day when we can put on a show together again! Hopefully soon. We appreciate you and everything you do. Cheers man. 
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Winston Ramble & Little Raine Band Return to Avondale on Friday June 17, 2020 22:49

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Share this article and tag a friend in the comments of our Facebook post for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this show!

The past three months have presented the music industry with a tremendous challenge. As the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality across America, live music was put on hold for the foreseeable future. This unfortunate scenario immediately left artists, booking agents, production companies, and so many others across the entertainment industry out of work. Live streams and archived video footage have become the primary source of any potential revenue, and this industry continues to need our support now more than ever. 

As we have all become accustomed to the "new norm" of a socially distant life, opportunities are beginning to surface for safe and controlled events. One of the first of such will occur this Friday night at Avondale Brewing Company, as local favorites Winston Ramble & Little Raine Band join forces in the heart of Birmingham. In an effort to create the safest possible environment, the venue has reduced capacity to 350 tickets with social distancing guidelines enforced.

Both bands will perform 90-minute sets, with Little Raine Band playing from 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM, and Winston Ramble playing from 8:50 PM - 10:20 PM. The amazing team at Big Friendly Productions is producing this show, which ensures that this will be an incredible experience from start to finish. BFP has worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to create opportunities for bands to live steam performances and allow fans to get their live music fix from home. If there has ever been a time to show support for your local music scene, that time is now. 

Those wishing to attend are encouraged to purchase their tickets immediately, as less than 100 tickets remain available. This show expected to sell out in advance, so don't wait until it's too late. Click here to learn more and grab your tickets today. 

Earlier this week, we had a chance to catch up with Davis Little (Little Raine Band) and Taylor Goodwin (Winston Ramble) to learn more about the band's perspective on this show. It goes without saying that this is an exciting, special occasion that falls under very unique circumstances. Check out quotes from both artists below, and make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event page for all of the latest updates on this show.

This show is very much needed. No doubt this has been the longest we’ve gone without playing a show since high school, we’re really itching to play. The date is on Juneteenth, so this is going to be a real fun celebration for Freedom Day & a display of unity within our small community. Our main hope is for everyone to be safe, wear masks, & socially distance. But ultimately have a good time, relax, & enjoy being back in the groove for the moment.
- Davis Little of Little Raine Band
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Honestly it’s just awesome to know that some live music is back on the table again. It’s a thrill to get to be a part of it, and I can’t wait to get back in action.
- Taylor Goodwin of Winston Ramble
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Watch Little Raine Band's official video for "Other Side" here:

Watch Winston Ramble's official video for "Wiser Time" here:

 


Atlanta's Noonday Sons Discuss Latest Studio Releases May 18, 2020 22:33

 

 Interview by Garrett Laurie: Live & Listen

Photo by Charles Warren

With Covid-19 shutting down every notion of attending a live performance, a lot of us are feeling the hurt, but none like the musicians we know and love. If it weren’t for Widespread Panic’s Never Miss A Sunday Show or Phish’s Dinner & A Movie I, for one, would lose it. Luckily there are working musicians that are seizing this opportunity to write and record on their own time. One of these bands is Noonday Sons, an Atlanta-based quintet that released a single that has been racking up streaming numbers on Spotify. Last month I got to sit down with Charles Warren (lead guitar) to chat about their single, “Run It Back” as well as their newest release that is out today, “Dark Hallways.” 

Formed late 2017, Noonday Sons got their start playing college shows across the southeast, as well as in Atlanta. When asked about their originals, Warren notes, “We base our sound around the improvisation we incorporate into our live shows, but we have more of a focus on the songwriting aspect and composition of songs than most jam bands.” Their emphasis on composition is wholly apparent in their debut single, “Run It Back.” The combination of a grungy tone, great groove, and steady rhythm the tune provides a great build which transitions into an expansive jam. 

The single has accrued over 50,000 streams on Spotify alone in a mere three-week span. When asked about the time frame from the release Warren states, “We released the single the second full weekend in "quarantine," March 27th. The combination of everyone being pent up for two weeks, and the fact that we ended up on a few playlists helped our stream count-out. It was good luck.” Producing a product like “Run It Back,” does not happen overnight. It requires a great deal of attention, time, and finding the right space to record. 

The uniqueness is not only in the song itself, but how recording at a friend’s home studio helped the band own their tune. Warren goes onto say, “We recorded at a studio that our friends built out (fellow Atlanta musicians and members of current touring act Frute). They built out a big studio, because two of their band members majored in audio engineering.” Not only did they record a majority of the tune in their home studio, but self-recorded a substantial portion at home before ultimately having it mastered.

Warren elaborates about how home studios are changing the way music is recorded by saying, “…you have the technology that nobody had 20 years ago to go from tapes to digital recording. The ability to build a room within a room, build your studio out the way you like it, then record at your own pace as you talk through the process with the other guys in the studio, is a great experience. It is so relaxed. Home studios have changed the way that music comes out. People release single after single now. It has become an instant process.” He also chimes in on how the relaxed nature of these studios contributes to putting out an overall well-polished product than well-established recording studios across the country. 

When asked about their latest release, “Dark Hallways,” Warren explains that it is a 180-degree turn from their previous release, saying it is, “…not as grungy as it sounds. It'll have more of an Americana sound, with bluegrass and rock undertones. It'll be a completely different sound than "Run it Back." The lighter nature of the track proves this band’s broad range and ability to master a tamer natured track.

Their new release “Dark Hallways” is available as of Thursday, May 14th on all major streaming platforms. After a dark track in “Run It Back,” the brighter track is sure to please. Atlanta friends be sure to check out Noonday Sons at Smith’s Olde Bar after Covid-19 runs its course and things get back to normal.

Special thanks to Madeline Crone & Taylor Dockery for their help with the interview. Check out the pro-shot video for Noonday Sons' “Run It Back” below:

 


CBDB Ventures "Back in Limbo" With Latest Single May 16, 2020 14:03

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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While the world of live music remains at a virtual standstill due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, musicians and bands across the globe continue to adapt and explore new creative avenues. While it may be quite some time before we return to what was once the "normal" concert experience, it has been nothing short of inspiring to observe the innovation that so many artists have shown over the past few months.
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Tuscaloosa natives CBDB have been at the forefront of this creative movement; hosting weekly live streams with various band members and always staying engaged with their loyal fan base. On Friday, May 15th, the band released their latest single, "Back in Limbo," which is now available on all major streaming outlets. Along with the single, CBDB called on their fans to help produce a heartfelt, inspiring music video for these troubling times. You can stream "Back in Limbo" via Spotify and watch the full video here in this article.
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We recently had the opportunity to sit down with frontman Cy Simonton to learn more about how the band is coping and adjusting, as well as all of the details on the new tune. Check out the full interview below, and make sure to add "Back in Limbo" to your summer playlist.
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So, you guys have just released your latest single, "Back in Limbo." I figured we could start off by discussing the backstory, the writing process, and any other noteworthy facts.
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Cy: Well, it's a tune that has been on the back burner for a while. We've had the music written for a long time. With Blake (Gallant) and Chris (Potocik) joining the band, writing temporarily took a backseat to everyone getting comfortable with the whole catalogue. The original riff that started the song actually came from Mike (Sinopole), our former bassist. (Kris) Gottlieb wrote the chorus chords. We shifted some time signatures around, found the groove with the new rhythm section, and then I wrote the melody and lyrics. 
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Tell me a little bit about the song itself. Is there a good story or concept behind the lyrics?
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Cy: Yeah, totally. It's about feeling like you're in limbo. Feeling like you're stuck in between and not quite where you want to be. Specifically, it was about the member changeover within the band, and the uncertainty that came with that. It's an experience that we've been through a few times, but it always seems to produce positive results and good vibes. Now with the quarantine, we felt the lyrics were particularly poignant. "Back in Limbo" feels like what everyone is doing currently.
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So we recorded it all in separate locations from home. It started with Potocik recording drums to a live recording. He had the bones of it, and Blake followed with the bass groove. We recorded everything that way.
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That's really neat. I'm guessing you guys have never done anything quite like that...
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Cy: No...that was a very unique recording experience. We've definitely never done it that way.
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Wow. That's amazing. I already loved the track, but knowing that makes it that much more appealing. I would've never guessed you guys were all recording remotely. It has that classic CBDB sound that you guys have always produced. 
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Cy: Well I appreciate that dude. I think so too. I was really proud of everybody, and how it came together. It definitely feels cohesive. There were a few things that we changed here and there, but mostly, it was just everyone laying down hot shit on the first try (laughs). 
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That's great. I'm sure it feels nice to release a studio track with Chris on drums, too.
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Cy: Absolutely. He’s a beast. We're definitely working on a bunch more as well. That's about all I can say, but hopefully, we'll be able to share more info on that before too long.
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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Love hearing that. So aside from the new release, I've gotta ask you how the band and you personally are handling the challenge of the pandemic. What has your experience been like thus far? How are you and the band adjusting? 
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Cy: Obviously, there are so many negative aspects. We were in the middle of our biggest tour to date, so that was a huge bummer. On the other hand, it has been nice in ways. I've loved being able to spend more time at home with my fiancee, Brittan, and our dog, Yoko. As far as the music, it's been cool to get back into the acoustic stuff. I've been doing the weekly live streams, which has been fun. 
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With the band, we've been writing more rapidly than ever in the history of the band. We've been having weekly Zoom calls. Shooting ideas back and forth like crazy. Discussing what everyone has been recording and, and where we see the songs going. That's been really cool. I definitely wish we could play live shows, because not feeling the direct response of the audience is weird. I really, really miss that. But yeah, I feel like in some ways, it has been a bit of a reset button, musically and otherwise. 
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Well, we've got the new single, and apparently several more new originals in the pipeline. What else is happening the CBDB world?
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Cy: We're doing a music video for "Back in Limbo" as well. That will be debuted on Friday, May 15th. 
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What can we expect from the video? 
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Cy: Well, like I was saying, everyone recorded their own parts from home. Some of us had Go Pro's and some had cell phones. Everyone recorded their parts at home, and then (Chris) Potocik made a video using that. We also had fans send in footage of what they've been up to during quarantine. So the video consists of us playing our own parts, as well as footage of us laying low and goofing off at home. Then there is a hodgepodge of footage from fans doing crazy stuff, babies dancing, and everything in between.
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That's amazing man. Giving your fans the opportunity to be in your new music video. That's a great example of why you guys have such a loyal following. 
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Cy: Yeah man. We had already talked about the idea of doing a quarantine video. The more I started thinking about it, I realized it was a great opportunity to get everyone involved. I feel like it made the video that much more interesting. It has more of a community feel. 
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I love that. Have you guys been able to confirm any full band performances? I remember you guys had to cancel the live stream a while back.
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Cy: Yes, we have. We're super excited to get the entire band together for a live stream on Big Friendly Productions' "Hunker in the Bunker" on Saturday, May 23rd at 8:00 PM CST. 
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I know a lot of people are going to be stoked about that. I'll certainly have it on my calendar. Always a pleasure chatting man. Best of luck navigating through the rest of this crazy time.
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Cy: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Jordan.
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Watch CBDB's official music video for "Back in Limbo" here:
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Stream CBDB's "Back in Limbo" via Spotify here:
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Ghost Light's Scotty Zwang Talks McGuire Zwang Duo & Life in Lockdown May 15, 2020 10:47

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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There is no doubt that we are in the midst of the most uncertain and troubling times that the world of music has ever seen. In nearly the blink of an eye, all forms of live music and entertainment were shut down amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic. The mission of Live & Listen has always been to provide a valuable platform for our favorite bands and musicians to build their audience, and there has never been a more important time do so.

Ever since catching Dopapod for the first time in 2014, I've been absolutely blown away by drummer Scotty Zwang. His energy, stage presence, and technique demands your attention and never fails to entertain from start to finish. Zwang has since moved on and toured with a number of nationally touring acts, most notably Ghost Light, which also features guitarist Tom Hamilton (Joe Russo's Almost Dead), keyboardist Holly Bowling, guitarist Raina Mullen, and bassist Dan Africano.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Scotty to learn a little more about his latest project, McGuire Zwang Duo, as well as how he's coping with life in quarantine. While this is a tremendously challenging time for professional, nationally-touring musicians, folks like Scotty are making the most of the situation and preparing to come back stronger than ever. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow McGuire Zwang Duo on all major social channels.

Photo by Donna Winchester: DonnasPics

Well, we're certainly in the midst of some crazy, uncertain times. This pandemic has hit the music industry as hard as any. How is everything going on your end, and what are you doing to stay productive and keep your mind in the right place?

Scotty: For sure. It's definitely a big change of pace. For so many of us, it has taken away what we do for a living, which is performing live. The music industry has evolved in a way that the most important thing you can do now is tour, sell tickets, and sell merchandise. Over the years, album sales have been down a lot. So this pandemic has definitely been tough and very different. The hardest aspect for me is that I live in an apartment. I'm trying as many different ways as possible to get creative. I've shifted a lot of focus to writing music. I will produce or write songs in Ableton, which is a digital workstation that I've grown comfortable with using over the years. It's been challenging to figure out what it is that I can do differently from touring. I've been fortunate to be able to play drums on the road so often, whether it be rehearsals or just having a place to play, that I've never really worried so much about not having a drum kit in my living space. My fiance and I had been looking for a more comfortable living situation, and the spot that we found was an apartment. 

There's just no room to set up a drum kit, on top of the noise issue and dealing with neighbors. It's been a major shift, and I've also had to shift my career back to teaching a lot more, which has been incredible. I've definitely realized how much I have missed teaching and just how rewarding it is to teach. Especially younger, or even just newer students, and just kind of kick starting their musicianship with the instrument. I've only been able to do it with a drum pad, but there is so much you can do with just a pair of sticks and a drum pad. Some of my students don't even have a drum pad. They just have their sticks, and they're playing on their bed or a pillow or whatever it might be. In the very early portion of the pandemic, some of them didn't even have sticks. We would just go over rhythm with their hands on percussion instruments or toys at home. I don't have any of that here, so I would just be doing it on a stack of paper plates and bowls (laughs).

Sounds like Trey Anastasio playing on rolls of toilet paper and wine glasses.

Scotty: Yeah, exactly. This pandemic gives you the opportunity to be a little more creative than you normally would have been. So, it's been rewarding in that sense, where I am spending a lot more time writing and teaching. I'm very grateful that I still have some form of income, as well as feeling really fulfilled, finances aside, with teaching, creating new music, or doing whatever it is that I normally wouldn't have time to do because I'm on the road. 

I've heard similar feedback from other musician friends who have had to direct all of their efforts to teaching. It's great to see those who are being able to stay busy and generate some new income. I know that hasn't been the case for everyone though.

Scotty: Yeah, for sure. Fortunately, I have my weekly lessons with students that I have built a strong student/teacher relationship with. With the technology of Zoom, Skype, or whatever it is that you're using, this is something that we can even continue when life gets back to normal when we're on the road. 

That seems to be one positive from all of this. I feel like a lot of musicians have realized that they can continue to teach virtually and generate additional income throughout the year, which is great to see. 

Scotty: Exactly. That's kind of my plan moving forward. Why not? Continue to teach. More so than just the income that's being missed by not touring, it's that much more rewarding to be able to play concerts at night and be able to teach during the day. You can do that from anywhere as long as you have a strong internet connection. That's kind of my plan moving forward from here. 

Well let's dive into the McGuire Zwang Duo. Tell me about the backstory. How did this project get started, and how have things progressed to where you are now?

Scotty: Ian (McGuire) and I have been playing music together since just before 2010. We were in a band called Sonic Spank. That's kind of where I started playing a little bit more in the jam scene and primarily the "livetronica," if you will, genre of music. Ian has always been one of my favorite keyboardists, both classically trained from a young age, as well as jazz trained at the Berklee College of Music. He's always been super fun to work with, and we have a great relationship. We're able to think very like minded, rhythmically, on a musical sense. We feed off of each other in a very special and unique way. 

When I moved to Philly in 2017, we had talked about doing a new project. There would be these opportunities where someone might need a band to open on a show they're putting together, but there isn't much of a budget. So I was thinking about how I could put something together with as few musicians as possible, in order to get the best bang for our buck. That kind of formed this band, which was originally called McZwang, and we decided to change the name to McGuire Zwang Duo. It sounds a little more profession, and it really helps showcase that it's just the two of us in this thing. Plus, it doesn't sound like a fast food chain (laughs). 

It worked pretty well for the Benevento Russo Duo.

Scotty: Exactly. We kind of took a page out of their book. I know they started similarly. There wasn't much of a budget. One of them had a residency at The Knitting Factory and had to figure out how to make that money go around and put more of it in your pocket. So, we've just been working on that. We've been working on an EP and putting out a record, because we haven't had much music out. When we changed the name, we had a little celebration show at this studio here in Philadelphia that also does smaller live shows. We had a gathering where we could capture that energy of a live show, but in a much more intimate setting. 

We just released our first set. Which is really the first half of a show with just Ian and I. During the second half, we had Danny Mayer on guitar, who plays with Eric Krasno Band. He's also in Star Kitchen with Marc Brownstein. We also had Jon Coleman, who is one of our favorite bassists. His band is called Muscle Tough. He does a lot with the Philly music scene, so we invited those guys to play the second half of the show with us. In the next few weeks, we will put out the second recording. For now, we've just released the first half, which focuses specifically on Ian and I as a duo. 

Very cool. You've obviously been involved with several major projects at this point in your career. What has this project allowed you to do differently as a musician? What about this duo excites you on a creative level?

Scotty: This kind of combines everything that I have learned over the past decade of touring full time. It takes all of those nuggets that I have learned over the years and combines them into a small, compact project. When you have several other musicians involved, whether it's a trio or even five people, as we have with Ghost Light, it can become harder and harder with all of those people connecting. It takes a lot of practice, but you can have that connection with however many people in a band. When you can have that connection between just two people, that stream of consciousness can happen so much faster. Especially with Ian, who at this point I've been playing music with longer than anyone else I've played with in the 20-25 years I've been playing my instrument. 

There is a connection there that is very different than anything I've ever done. It kind of takes everything we've learned from live improvisation and electronic dance music, and it incorporates more of the modern jazz approach that is happening now with people like Mark Guiliana and his band Beat Music, which has been a big influence on us. He also has a project with Brad Mehldau which is called Mehliana. Taking more of that jazz approach and the fusion on danceable jazz and electronic music. Maybe some of the Squarepusher influence as well in there. Trying to cater to not only what we're used to in the jam band scene, but also trying to stretch out into new avenues that we've never played in before. 

Listen to set one from McGuire Zwang Duo at Boom Room Studios here:

That's awesome. So you guys just released the first set of the live session. Have you guys released any studio material at this point?

Scotty: We've wrapped up production on our first EP. It's not quite a full album. It should be out later in the year. We're still wrapping up a few things there. We were going to try and release it pretty soon, but then all of this other stuff happened. It had to take a back seat, so we could figure out what life during a pandemic was going to look like. 

Well, I know it's hard to figure out exactly what the future is going to look like. Hopefully, you'll be able to get back to touring before too long. You obviously have Ghost Light continuing to take off. I'm sure that will continue to trend in a positive direction. How do you foresee the balance working out, and just how active do feel that the duo can be on your calendar?

Scotty: Over the last year or so, I've been having a much bigger focus on my life and work balance. When I was with Dopapod, we were playing anywhere from 120-150 shows a year. It was a lot of touring, and there wasn't much balance with my life. It was easy to feel a little burnt out. With Ghost Light, that has obviously been my main focus, but I did want to have something else to be able to focus on as well. Something to divide my time musically when Ghost Light is not on the road. We're only doing about 70 shows a year, and there is definitely some extra time in there to have other focuses creatively. I'm still balancing things out and making sure I put time aside for myself, life with my family, and obviously my fiancee. It's looking like I'll be doing Ghost Light about 1/3 of the year, and close to but not as much with McGuire Zwang Duo. 

Our aim is about 50 shows a year, maybe a little more depending on where it goes. We're going to try to do baby steps from there. Before any of this happened, Ian teaches a lot of students. He also has a few other projects. He is a full-time member of Lets Danza, which features the other members of Brothers Past, which is Tom Hamilton's former band. When he's not busy doing that, or his other project CIA (which features Clay Parnell and Allen Aucoin from The Disco Biscuits), he is teaching a lot. This is kind of a way for us to focus musically on something else. Something we can be creative with and have a little more control, with it just being the two of us. Once things open back up, we're hoping to continue with that goal of at least 50 shows a year and see what happens from there. 

Love hearing that. Is there anything else pertaining to the Duo that you'd like to mention?

Scotty: Well, we will definitely have set two, featuring Danny Mayer and Jon Coleman, coming out May 22nd. A little later in the year, you should definitely be keeping an eye out for our first studio release.

Can't wait to hear all of this material. Please keep us posted and let us know whatever we can do to help spread the good word. Always a pleasure chatting with you man. 

Scotty: Likewise. Thanks so much Jordan.


The Orange Constant Peels Into Staple Sound With New Album May 12, 2020 00:07

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Georgia-based rock outfit The Orange Constant has self-released its third studio album. Featuring mostly newer material, Peel, was recorded over the past year and a half with Grammy-nominated producer John Keane with whom the band has previously worked with.

The LP digs into a familiar blend of vintage and modern rock and covers the group’s sonic spectrum; heartfelt anthems with catchy choruses ride alongside instrumental skill with psychedelic undertones.

Band guitarist and co-founder Nickalous Benson says the album benefited from a lengthier recording process and familiarity with Keane as the hometown producer.

“We’ve never before had so much time to pick at the layers,” Benson said. “You could sit back and reevaluate the music you recorded and decide if you really like it.”

The release marks the first full-length studio effort that includes all five current members of the band. 

Formed in Statesboro, Ga. in 2012 and transplanted to Athens, The Orange Constant steadily tours the greater southeast and has performed as far north as New York and west as Colorado. The new album is available for purchase or streaming on all major platforms and the band says it hopes to press vinyl this year.

Those who are interested can head over to the band’s Facebook page for a live listening party at 8:00 PM EST tonight (May 12th). They will be listening to the album in its entirety, as well as hosting a Q&A session with their fans.

Stream The Orange Constant's new album Peel via Spotify here:


Doom Flamingo's Thomas Kenney Reveals New Project OUKUO April 27, 2020 09:47

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photo by Bain Stewart Media

For the past two years, we've had the great pleasure of watching Charleston's Doom Flamingo take off like wildfire in the festival scene. The dynamic six-piece's unique blend of "synthwave" provides something truly unique and fresh, which is a rare testament these days. Led by Umphrey's McGee bassist Ryan Stasik, the band's powerful sound is a product of an incredibly diverse pool of talent.

Last week, we had a chance to sit down with guitarist Thomas Kenney to learn more about his latest solo project: OUKUO. In this conversation, we learned all about Thomas's eclectic musical background, as well as what can be expected as OUKUO takes shape and grains traction. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to stream the new single "The Blue City" while you're here.

Let's kick this off with some general background info. How did your musical journey begin?

Thomas: I started playing guitar about 16 years ago. I was in a heavy metal band in high school. As I got to college, my interests were leaning more towards blues, soul, and jazz music. I was studying a lot of jazz, as well as Brazilian and African music. I was always fascinated with anything that was "exotic sounding," whether it was Indian, African, even Caribbean music. I started college as a Jazz major, and I wasn't the most disciplined student at the time. My studies were mainly based on western classical theory. I would love to play devil's advocate with my teachers about western vs. eastern classical theory. One of my professors got frustrated and told me I should go back to the bar.

I switched my degree to English Rhetorical Studies, and I just always kept up with music. I always played in bands. Once you can read and write music, you don't need a degree to pursue it. It's an oral language. So, I moved back to Charleston after college, and I just started playing gigs. I kind of got tapped into this super rich Charleston scene here. Charleston is one of the birth places of jazz, gospel, and r&b. I'm super fortunate to play with some of the best jazz and r&b players on the planet. There's a church every 10 feet in Charleston. Every church has a band, and they're all killin'.

So yeah, I started playing with people like Mike Quinn and Ross Bogan (Doom Flamingo) about seven years ago. They were playing in a band called Wadata at the time. They were helping get the local funk scene started. After that, I started playing whatever full time gigs I could get. I kind of fell into teaching. I've always made digital music, whether it be house, hip hop, or ambient . I'd say I've been a full-time musician for about eight years now. Weddings, teaching, touring, gigging, whatever works. 

Very cool. One of the bands you play with is Terraphonics. I've always heard great things from friends in Charleston. Tell me more about that project. 

Thomas: Absolutely. Terraphonics is a highly collaborative concept. It's a blend of hip-hop, r&b, and jazz. The band an instrumental quartet, but we tend to work with various MCs and vocalists. We've played a lot of cover shows and rap cyphers. It's been a very fun experience to be a part of. 

Well I know that we want to focus on the latest project, OUKUO. So let's do that. Did I get the pronunciation right? 

Thomas: Pretty close, but it's pronounced "oo-koo-owe." This project has been brewing in the back of my mind for years and years now. It's really a combination of a ton of different influences of mine. A lot of my friends don't know this, but I'm really into euro-house music and EDM. Most people know me as a guitar player that plays blues, soul, Motown, and jazz. But I've always loved electronic music of all kinds. I love reggae and dub, and all of that late-night, grimy stuff. This project is kind of my way of expressing that side of my brain. Ideally, while it's going to begin as a DJ set, my idea is that once Doom Flamingo gets back on the road, I'll be able to hire on some of the guys to play with me. You know, similar to how Thievery Corporation does it. 

Check out OUKUO's debut single "The Blue City" here:

 

I'm glad to hear you say that. I've always enjoyed seeing electronic artists surround themselves with a live band. It naturally makes things that much more interesting.

Thomas: Yeah, and I'm really the sum of my environment. I'm really influenced by the sound of my friends. Especially my bud Ross (Bogan) who plays keys and synth in Doom Flamingo. He is just the sonic tapestry master when it comes to using effects. He has the absolute best tone, so I'm always drawing inspiration from him. I'm playing most of the parts on the OUKUO record: keys, bass, and guitar. I have my friend Shelton Dessasure on most of the tunes, who is one of my favorite local drummers. The rest I'm either sampling his takes or building drums from scratch in Ableton. I'm trying to compose it like most EDM/Hip Hop projects, but it will inevitably translate really well as a live performance.

You mentioned this has been in the back of your mind for years now. Do you feel that the experience of these last two years with Doom Flamingo has inspired you to finally bring OUKUO to life?

Thomas: Yeah, I would say it's been an influence in a really interesting way. Terraphonics tends to have this really intimate sound that draws really well in small theaters, smoky jazz bars, and places like that. Doom Flamingo has this massive sound, and it's led me to playing on some amazing stages. That's allowed me to play through some huge sound systems. I'm a believer that acoustic force; just the shear massiveness of a sound, it's almost like it's own scale or chord. It's going to affect you emotionally. 

I'm definitely composing this music with a large stage vision. This music is not for the 30-person, 55-and-up jazz crowd. It's way more bass heavy. It's way more sampling and electronic, and you'll see that Doom Flamingo uses a lot of electronics and triggering on stage. So. yeah, I'm always responding to my environment as a writer and I'm definitely composing this seeing it in the same acoustic environment as Doom Flamingo as well. 

Specifically for this release, as you begin introducing the world to OUKUO, what's the main message you'd like for people to hear?

Thomas: I would say that while it is an eclectic range of sounds, I would classify it as dance music. I'm trying not to filter out too many ideas, but my one criteria is you have to be able to dance to 90% of the tracks. There's also a mellow midnight smoke session track or two on the record, for some contrast.

That's a fantastic rule. 

Thomas: (laughs) Yeah, of course. I love dance music because it allows me to directly share with audience. It's the easiest way to take care of each other. If I can make you dance, you're going to reciprocate the energy to me. That just make's for a really great night. I would say one thing that really differentiates this from my other projects is this sound I've been working on for years by myself. It's the sample-heavy side of things. I'm a huge hip-hop fan, and I love producers like Mad Lib And Timbaland, and all of the producers in that vein. They are masters of taking sounds from around the world and contextualizing them in an EDM context. My travels to places like India, Morocco, Spain, Cuba... they have all made a massive impact on the way I produce and play guitar, and that's going to show up.  All of those experiences are going to melt into one world that I would describe as OUKUO.

I dig it man and really look forward to listening more. Remind me when we can expect to see the full album. 

Thomas: This is the first single, and it's part of a larger record called Gorilla. It's going to be an eight or nine track record. I'll be releasing the second single in about two months and releasing the album later in the summer.

Very cool. Well it's been a pleasure chatting Thomas. Can't wait for all of us to get back out on the road. The world needs live music right now. Thanks for everything you do.

Thomas: My pleasure. Thank you, man!

Photo via Tara Gracer Photography
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Check out OUKUO's debut single "The Blue City" here:


The Talismen Release New EP 'Extra Vehicular Activity' March 30, 2020 13:47

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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We're in the midst of the most uncertain times the live music scene has ever encountered. The concept of "social distancing" eliminates any opportunity for music fans to gather and watch their favorite bands perform in venues across the country. It's critical that we find ways to support those working in the music industry during this unexpected downtime, and purchasing / streaming new releases is a perfect way to do so.
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The Talismen, a four piece jam/rock act out of Montgomery (AL), just released a brand-new, four-song EP titled 'Extra Vehicular Activity'. The new release, which was produced by Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7), is now available on all major online music outlets. The EP features three new originals, as well as a studio cover of Ace Frehley's "New York Groove." Extra Vehicular Activity is the follow up to the band's 2019 debut album, Jar Full of Something, which has amassed just under 200,000 total streams in 12 months. EVA was engineered by Anthony Aparro, mixed by Jason Kingsland, and mastered by Zach Pyles.
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We recently caught up with The Talismen's Jack Wagstaff and producer Kevin Scott to gather a little more insight on this project. Check out the quotes below, as well as a full stream of the new EP via Spotify. 
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"Overall, our experience recording this EP was nothing short of amazing. We have progressed so much as a band over the past year. It means so much to watch ourselves take this next step. We had a blast during our time in the studio, and we were able to make some new friends along the way. Our producer, Kevin Scott, made this a super easy and fun environment to record in. It was a such a valuable experience for us as a band. It was also a nice bonus that there were farm animals right outside of the studio." - Jack Wagstaff (keys/vocals) 
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"From my years of producing, working with such a great group of talented young musicians was an amazing experience. We're all very proud of this recording, and I'm very excited to see The Talismen's progression arise in today's music scene." Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7) 
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Those wishing to show their support for The Talismen can purchase a digital copy of Extra Vehicular Activity by clicking here. Make sure to follow the band on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on all of the latest happenings. You can also purchase an official "Electric Shoes" t-shirt today by visiting the band's official website.
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Album Artwork by Kyndall Cooper: Kaleidoscope Creative
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Stream The Talismen's 'Extra Vehicular Activity' via Spotify here:
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Cycles Releases New Studio EP 'Summer Dress' March 27, 2020 14:53

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The first studio work in three years from Cycles, Denver’s psychedelic-rock-fusion pioneers, is out now. Recorded at Scanhope Sound in Denver, CO and produced by Josh Fairman of SunSquabi is out now on all streaming platforms via Color Red.  

“Summer Dress was the most natural thing ever for us. We couldn’t wait to lay these songs down and Josh Fairman is the man! He made it so easy for us to record this stuff live and we made it easy for him by doing barely any overdubs or retakes. The EP takes you on a journey that reminds you to lay off your phone, pull out that summer dress, head up to the hills and throw your time into the sky because the time spent worrying about what will happen will keep you from recognizing how glorious that sunrise can actually be.” –Patrick Harvey (Guitar / Vocals)

After an incredibly busy year that found the band headlining shows from coast to coast as well as supporting acts like Umphrey’s McGee, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, SunSquabi and more, Cycles are adapting to a new way of life off the road in the developing pandemic of Coronavirus. With their entire Spring Tour postponed due to safety concerns, the band is finding new ways to bring their music to their fans while diligently planning a show-heavy Fall Tour. Recently featured on the 11E1even Group’s “Live From Out There” online digital subscription music festival the guys are busy planning more in-home experiences right now. Having just joined Nugs.net, the popular jamband-oriented streaming service, the band will now be able to bring their live-recorded shows to an eager crowd ready to listen.

In the face of all the uncertainty facing the live music industry and bands that depend on it, the Summer touring schedule for all bands has slimmed down to just a handful of festivals that have yet to reschedule. Stay tuned on the Cycles social media channels for updates and new content.

Stream Cycles new EP 'Summer Dress' via Spotify here:

Watch Cycles perform "Music's For Free" via Live From Out There:


Big Friendly Productions Announces Live Stream Series in Birmingham March 17, 2020 12:00

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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We have officially entered uncharted territory, as the reality surrounding COVID-19 increases throughout each day. The devastating effect that this virus has had on industries across the globe is immeasurable at this point. For the first time in American history, we've seen a total shutdown on all public gatherings, including professional sports, NCAA March Madness, and live music as a whole.
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The widespread cancellations have put the well-being of so many in jeopardy. The music industry is one of many which has come to a complete halt; leading to a very harsh reality for musicians, managers, booking agents, promoters, venue employees, and so many more. How long will this last?  When will it be safe to return to our normal lifestyle? These are perfectly reasonable questions, which seem impossible for anyone to provide a definite answer.
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We do have a bit a good news to share today. Our friends at Big Friendly Productions have officially launched a new live stream series called Hunker in the Bunker, which kicks off on Friday, March 20th with performances from Little Raine Band and Desert Island Monster Mash. The series will continue on Saturday with Winston Ramble and Zach Austin & The Lonesome, while Taylor Hunnicutt and The Yellow Dandies will close out the weekend on Sunday. HITB will continue on a Thursday through Sunday basis for the foreseeable future. 
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Here's the really cool part. This series gives you the opportunity to financially support all parties involved. As the amount of cancelled gigs continues to pile up, the music industry's total revenue is plummeting. Hunker in the Bunker allows you to make a donation of any amount to support both the artists and Big Friendly Productions, while enjoying the luxury of live music from your couch. Make sure to follow Big Friendly Productions on Facebook in order to tune in to all future live streams.
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We caught up with Alex Cape, the founder of Big Friendly Productions, to learn more about the specifics of this unique live stream series. Check out the quotes below to learn more about Hunker in the Bunker, and feel free to reach out to Alex@bigfriendlyproductions.com for further details.
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"In the past four days, we have had all shows in until May 9th cancel or postpone until further notice. It is hitting the pause button right at the beginning of our very busy spring / summer season."
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"It's massive for us. We have been planning and preparing for the last 3 months for the spring and summer festival and private event seasons.  We have had over $100k in lost revenue in the last four days."
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"We have activated a rehearsal space in downtown Birmingham to host local and regional artists that have also had cancellations. We have started with many of the bands that we work with on a regular basis. We plan on streaming as much as we can until whenever we can go back to work."
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"Our first live stream will be this Friday, March 20th from 7:00 PM - 10:30 PM. We are going to broadcast from our company's Facebook page. We will take donations via Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App and hopefully pick up local business sponsors. Donations will be split appropriately between Big Friendly Productions and the participating bands"
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Matt Slocum & Mike Robinson Discuss Life with Railroad Earth March 3, 2020 08:53

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Sometimes life's next opportunity doesn't always surface through the most ideal circumstances. That would certainly be the case for the lives of Matt Slocum and Mike Robinson, who were called on to join Railroad Earth following the death of the late Andy Goessling. Goessling was one of the band's founding members, who was known for his incredible talent on guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin, saxophone, clarinet, saxophone, flute, and many other instruments. He passed away on October 12th, 2018 after a hard fought battle with cancer. An artist of this caliber simply cannot be replaced, but the show must go on. 
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Last week, we had a chance to sit down with Slocum and Robinson on the band's tour bus, just a few hours before their performance at Birmingham's Iron City. In this interview, we learned all about each musician's musical background, as well as their unique, individual paths to this band. Robinson, who had previously been a member of The Jeff Austin Band, shared his emotional story of tragically losing his mentor and friend, while being called on to fill in for the loss of another. Austin passed away unexpectedly on June 24th, 2019, just eight months after Goessling's death. If one thing is clear, the Railroad Earth family is as strong as any, and the music continues to expand with the addition of Slocum and Robinson. 
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Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to speak with me. I'd love to start off with each of you speaking about your individual journeys which led to your new roles with Railroad Earth. 
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Matt: Well, I knew some guys based out of Atlanta: Kevin Scott and Mark Radabaugh...Mark plays drums for Donna The Buffalo, and Kevin plays bass with a whole bunch of people. I think you know Kevin, right?
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We've met a time or two. (laughs)
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Matt: So I did this session...well actually, I met Andrew (Altman) first. This was in 2009 or 2010. I did some session work with him here in Birmingham. We didn't really know each other yet. He was just another guy on the session. That's how we met. Then later on, Mark and Kevin had me come over to meet with Andrew to do a record. That's when we really got to know each other. 
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So fast forward several years, Andrew calls and asks if I would want to come fill in with Railroad Earth. That was how this all got started. If I hadn't met him through doing those sessions with Kevin and Mark, I would never have gotten the call. So it was ultimately through Andrew that I got this gig. 
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At what point in time was this?
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Matt: That was in 2017. 
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Previously to Railroad Earth, you've toured with a number of notable acts. Tell me a little more about your prior history.
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MattI started out with Oteil Burbridge, playing with The Peacemakers back in 2003...as far as national touring acts. I've played music my whole life. Oteil got me a gig with Susan Tedeschi, who I actually grew up with in Norwell, Massachusetts. When he called me and asked, "Do you know Susan Tedeschi," I was like, "Do I know her? She used to babysit me!" Anyways, I toured with Susan, then came Col. Bruce Hampton, Jeff Sipe, Jimmy Herring with Aquarium Rescue Unit. Then through Susan and Derek Trucks, they recommended me to Rich Robinson for Magpie Salute. Most recently, I've toured with Jimmy Herring's latest projects, The Invisible Whip and The 5 of 7.
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I've played with a bunch of different bands. Then Andrew called me to fill in with them. Unfortunately, one of their band members, Andy Goessling, was sick and undergoing treatment. They didn't want to try and replace him, so they decided to add keys. Then Andy got better, and I left. 
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You mentioned they weren't trying to replace him. He played at least a dozen various instruments, right? 
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Matt: Correct. Obviously, one person couldn't fill that role, which is why they ultimately called on Mike (Robinson) as well.
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I'd love to hear a little more about your background and journey to the band as well, Mike.
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Mike: Totally. If you want me to go all the way back, I grew up in Colorado. My dad is a fiddle player. I grew up playing traditional acoustic, bluegrass music, but I went to New York City to study jazz. While I was in school, I started touring with a band called Taarka. I replaced their former guitarist, Ross Martin. Then when Ross left The Jeff Austin Band, I joined up with Jeff. I played with Jeff for two years, and during those years we did three shows opening for Railroad Earth in Portland (ME), Boston (MA), and Port Chester (NY). 
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So I got to meet Andy and about as close to the original Railroad Earth lineup as you could get that year. This was early 2017 or early 2018. That next year, I left The Jeff Austin Band right around the time that Railroad Earth was touring with special guests after Andy's passing. Slocum was involved. Holly Bowling was involved. Tony Trischka was involved. Andy Falco was involved. Erik Yates was involved. It was kind of star studded, really. They were being extremely flexible, and I did three shows as one of the special guests. Ironically, it was pretty much the same run that we did with Jeff's band previously. So I got on the phone, and when they offered me the gig, I couldn't do the first few. I started in Texas, and I've done every show ever since. 
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I know you're playing a fair amount of pedal steel guitar, but you're also bringing a variety of instruments to the stage as well, right?
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Mike: Yeah...to the best of my abilities, I'm trying to cover some of what Andy was band. I play banjo, acoustic guitar, and Andy was a great dobro player. I don't really play dobro, so all of the tunes that he played dobo and lap steel on, I've been playing on pedal steel. There's a little electric guitar as well, but a lot of that is focusing on the new material. The new record was produced by Anders Osborne, who is a great electric guitar player. He plays all over the record.
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This is a new, unreleased album?
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Mike: Correct. "It's So Good" was released as a single a few months ago. "The Great Divide" was also released as a single. A few others have been introduced live. 
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Matt: The album should be out sometime this summer. 
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Was there much history with Anders Osborne prior to this album?
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Matt: I don't have any history with him. 
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Mike: No, and neither of us were involved in the initial recording. This was a while ago. Andy is actually on one of the takes. I think they started some of the demoing around the time that Andy died. They went down to New Orleans together. They hadn't done many records like this, where they went somewhere else, holed up, ate all their meals together, did all their arranging together. It was an extremely collaborative effort. I actually made it on the record after the fact with just a couple of punches. A little banjo here and there. But they really went to New Orleans and did a special thing together. I think that sonically, it really shows.
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And there isn't a set date for release, but you're thinking sometime this summer?
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Mike: Not a specific date that I know of, but yes, I would expect to see it this summer. 
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Excellent. I also wanted to ask you both about coming into your new roles with Railroad Earth. This band has such a deep catalog and a huge, passionate fan base. Fans that are very intuitive and pay such close attention to detail at each show. How was the experience of bringing in new instruments and introducing yourself as musicians to the band and their audience?
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Matt: I think for both of us, we love learning songs. Right?
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Mike: Oh yeah. 
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Matt: We love learning songs, and I'm guessing Mike did the same thing that I did. You know, "Here's the list of songs. Go find them on the internet and use your ear to learn them." 
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Mike: I think I learned 87 songs the first weekend, because they don't want to play repeats at each show. I think the grand catalog is around 300 songs, but I probably know about 150 of them at the moment. I think there were major differences between Matt and I though. The majority of the parts I had to learn already existed. I'm copying Andy's banjo parts. I'm learning Andy's dobro melody on pedal steel. I'm learning Andy's guitar intro, whereas there was never organ. There was never Clavinet. There were piano parts, but John (Skehan) plays them. Matt's coming from a place of adding himself to existing material. I'm stepping into parts that already existed. I'm learning note for note what Andy did. 
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Matt: That's so true, and it may even be harder for you, because you have to learn somebody else's stuff, and then try to be yourself. That can be a tough thing to do. You're trying to stay true to something, but also be yourself. For me, there's nothing me to "learn." I'm like, "Well, do I play organ? Do I play piano? I don't know. Just play something, and if it feels right, it feels right." You know what I mean? I don't have anything to learn really (laughs). 
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But on the other side, it was definitely challenging, because there was nothing to listen to. I don't know what to do, until I do it. Either they say, "That sounded good," or "Why don't you try it on piano instead of organ." I think it's been a challenge for both of us, because we want to be respectful to the music, and we want to be respectful to Andy, and the reason we are here in the first place. We're also trying to be ourselves. I'm not going to come here and be a robot musician. I'm going to be myself, while always trying to stay true to the music. 
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It's a challenge every day. I practice every day. I want to make sure I know what's going on, and that's the way I am with everything that I do. The way that it happens is that they give us a song, and we learn out parts by ear. There's not a lot of rehearsal in this band. Both of us learn the songs and show up on the gig. Time for the show. Hope you know your part. That's how it works.
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Mike: That being said, the thing I want to be the most clear about is that I don't think it's just showing up knowing what we're doing. The band has been incredible adjusting for a new sound. The entire thing is different, not just because of us, but they have made room for our skill set. Neither of us do what Andy did, so the gap isn't just what Andy left. It's what the band is forming around us. What we're able to do has the band to thank, because they are being extremely malleable in what they allow us to do. We get to show up and be ourselves. That's kind of the beauty of the new lineup.
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Matt: Which is really awesome of them, by the way.
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Mike: It's great for us. 
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Matt: It's unfortunately awesome. We're here because of a very unfortunate thing, which is just life. We've taken it, and they've taken it, and allowed us to be ourselves. To me, the band is really starting to gel and come up with this new thing that is Railroad Earth...
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Mike: 2.0.
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Matt: Railroad Earth 2.0. (laughs).
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So you mentioned you're about 150 songs into the catalog. I know most bands in this scene have their different rules with repeating songs and crafting each set list. Would you say "Railroad Earth 2.0" is tapping into about half of the band's catalog?
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Mike: Yeah, and more often than bringing back old stuff, they're adding new stuff. That's the fun part for me, because when it's something new, now we're making our own parts.
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Matt: That's true.
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Mike: We're not building upon something that already existed. We are together, seven people, putting a new thing together. That's when I start to get excited. Not to say that the old stuff isn't exciting. I'm 27 years old. This is amazing job for me, but when I become a contributing arranger, I have the opportunity to put together a vocal harmony part, have a say in who solos where, or what the solo section is. That's really fun for me.
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Of course. Anything that allows you to tap into your own creative channel is going to be it's own unique experience. Have you had a chance to contribute much to the actual song-writing process?
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Mike: Not yet, but I'm starting to smell that already, especially with John. John's kind of a driving force in a lot of the fiddle tunes. He and I pick a lot of bluegrass tunes together, and he will be like, "Oh, check this out." So, that's just now starting to happen.
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Matt: But Todd (Sheaffer) is predominantly the song writer. Tim has written songs. Drew has written songs. John has written songs, and they have all collaboratively written songs. Todd seems to be the main driving force behind the song-writing and lyrics. I do want to write some songs though. I've talked to Mike about it. I think it would be cool for the new guys to help out there. At least bring a form to them to say, "What can we all do with this?" We're all talking about it. This record is coming out. There are other things on the burners. 
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Mike: I think once the record is released, and we have all the new songs in the live performing catalog, then there will be much more room for some new song writing. 
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So there are some tunes on the new album which have not been performed live?
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Matt: No...only a few.
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Mike: With a couple of exceptions, we've been sort of waiting to play them live until the track gets released. 
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Matt: There is some stuff we have rehearsed. We do get around to rehearsing a few times a year (laughs).
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I'm sure you're accustomed to that after your days with Col. Bruce and Aquarium Rescue Unit.
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Matt: That band didn't rehearse at all. We'd be on stage, and Bruce would say, "We're doing this song next," and I'm like, "Huh?" But anyway, we have rehearsed the songs that we haven't played live. It's just hard to get everyone available on the same day for rehearsal. 
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So Mike, I know you mentioned that you've kind of come up through the bluegrass scene. The main thing that has always stuck out about this grouping of bands (Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, and so on) is the sense of family and camaraderie. It's been especially noticeable through the loss of two incredibly vital members: Andy (Goessling) and Jeff (Austin). It's been remarkable to watch as a fan. I was hoping you could speak to the testament of the extended "jam grass" family.
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Mike: I had been in Railroad Earth for about three months when Jeff died. Jeff was my first real boss. We rode in the van together for two years straight. He died not during, but right around Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and everyone was together for it. It was super heavy, but extremely helpful. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to be, at the point, literally living with. The Railroad guys had literally just been through this with Andy. They really were the best people to talk to about it. They knew exactly what I was feeling at the time.
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I wasn't in Jeff's band for twenty years, but it still hit me in a way that they were able to support. That goes for the fans, too. With a couple of exceptions, I think everyone at Telluride this year played a Jeff song. We played a couple that are now in the catalog. And then coming together at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, CO was one of the more moving nights of my life. It was everybody. To see members of The String Cheese Incident, Hot Rize, Sam Bush, Yonder, Greensky, Billy Strings, Bela Fleck...to see this many people willing to show up and play for free. To watch 7000 tickets get sold in five minutes.
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It's just like, "Wow!" This scene has power that we can't really explain. For Devlyn and Jeff's family, it solved so many financial issues in a matter of hours. All it takes is a crew of people willing to do a day of work to help someone in need. It's super powerful. It's very moving.
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I can only imagine. I knew that you had been a member of Jeff's band, but I had not fully connected the dots on how this all fell into place. I'm sure it's been incredibly helpful to have that type of support from these guys who can relate.
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Just to conclude the conversation, I know you said the new album is on the horizon. What else are you guys fired up about, and what can the fans look forward to?
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Mike: Right now, we're in the middle of some pretty heavy touring. Six shows a week at times. In the spring, it's pretty much just going to become festivals. If you want to see Railroad Earth in an indoor venue, by themselves, now is the time to do it. 
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Matt: I would like to say that there is an excitement within the band. With us being new, there's a buzz going on with the music. There is some really cool shit happening. The music is on fire right now. The passion about it is on fire. It's different than it used to be. They have always been a great band. They've been around for nearly twenty years, but it's changing now. It's really starting to gel in this new way. It's been really fun for everyone to figure out how that is happening, and it's really working. 
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I'm sure that the chemistry continues to build with each show. Is this the first time you've played Birmingham with Railroad Earth?
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Matt: As a true member, yes. Last time they were here (at Avondale Brewery), they asked me to sit in on a few songs. Andy was there. I was fortunate enough to play with him a few times. He was doing better, and it was closer to home for him. Crazy to think that last time they were here, I was "sitting in" with them. 
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No kidding. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat this afternoon. Looking forward to the show!
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Winston Ramble Returns to Avondale Brewery on Saturday Night February 26, 2020 15:10

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photo by Alex Cape: Big Friendly Productions
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Live & Listen is giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday night's show with Winston Ramble & Miss Mojo at Avondale Brewing Company. Share this article directly from our Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win. 
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Birmingham's local talent will be on full display on Saturday, February 29th, as Winston Ramble returns to Avondale Brewing Company for a big homecoming show. This particular show is a special occasion for the band, as it will be the first opportunity for many to see new lead guitarist, Taylor Goodwin, in action with his new band mates. Many will recognize Goodwin from his work with several other Alabama-based groups, such as The Pearl, Taylor Hunnicutt, and Melobeat. Considering the rapid growth and continued success of Winston Ramble over the past few years, one can only imagine that the best is yet to come. 
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Saturday night's show will be held in The Upstairs at Avondale Brewery, with music kicking off at approximately 7:30 PM. The band has called on the amazing New Orleans eight-piece act Miss Mojo for direct support. Miss Mojo is known for blending neo-soul sensibilities with high-energy pop and funk music, led by two powerful women on lead vocals. The combination of these two bands should provide something for any and all music fans, and you'd be hard pressed to find a more dynamic option anywhere in the state of Alabama on Saturday night. 
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We recently had a chance to catch up with Goodwin to discuss his overall thoughts and feelings regarding this new musical venture. Quotes from this conversation, as well streaming options for Winston Ramble's two latest singles, can be found below. Make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event for all of the latest updates on Saturday night's show! 
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"I'm having an absolute blast with these guys. We’ve been reasonably busy trying to work some different markets around the southeast. This has given me an excellent chance to get to really know all the music the way I want to, as well as spend time with the guys as I get to know them better. It’s so much fun."
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"Acclimating to the new musical space has taught me that I can always be more intentional with my playing. There is plenty of room to be more thoughtful in the parts I choose, as well as when I’m improvising. Sometimes a simple statement is the strongest one you can make."
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"I love how much there is to explore. I love the inspiration that I get from the other guys in this band, whether I’m just trying to pick up on their licks to match on stage, or we’re "nerding out" about music we’re into. There’s tons of fresh territory to check out every time we play. They’ve been turning me onto a lot of very cool music that I hadn’t dug deep enough to find. That’s exciting for me as a listener and has encouraged me to bring new ideas to my playing."
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"I'm stoked to continue writing new material with these guys. We’ve got a couple brand new tunes which are nearly ready to go, and the more rough drafts sitting right behind those at the moment. So the outlook is bright on that front." 
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Taylor Goodwin (lead guitar) of Winston Ramble
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Check out two of Winston Ramble's latest originals, "Always Will" and "Birds," below:
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An Evening with Ghost Light: Presented by Hog Days of Summer February 21, 2020 15:45

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Live & Listen and Druids Charity Club, the local non-profit responsible for Hog Days of Summer, are joining forces to bring nationally acclaimed rock group Ghost Light to Montgomery's Capri Theatre on Wednesday, March 25th. Click here to purchase tickets!
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Back in the fall of 2016, we learned of another group of like-minded individuals who had a vision for a new, unique music festival in Montgomery. Since we launched Live & Listen in 2014, finding a way to bring the community together through music, while making a positive impact for those who need it most, has been a major focus. Upon further conversation, we knew that the guys behind Druids Charity Club were onto something special. 
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Druids Charity Club has since established one of Montgomery's most highly anticipated annual events: Hog Days of Summer. "Hog Days" is a BBQ & music celebration raising money for Hogs For The Cause, a long-standing annual music and BBQ festival in New Orleans, LA which provides grants to families facing pediatric cancer. Going into it's 4th year, Hog Days aims to be an end of Summer celeration that brings Montgomerians together in a family-friendly atmosphere to enjoy great food and Americana music. Americana-style music incorporates elements of various American styles of music, including Rock & Roll, Country, Blues, Folk, and Bluegrass to form a roots oriented sound.
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After three years, 'Hog Days' has quickly become one of Montgomery's favorite events. The event has seen it's attendance, partnerships, and fundraising grow significantly each year. The 2020 Hog Days of Summer will be held on August 22nd. Druids Charity Club will once again partner with several of the South's best BBQ curators to put on a festival experience in downtown Montgomery that will run from the early afternoon into the evening.
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We could not be more pleased to partner with Druids Charity Club for an amazing night of live music at Montgomery's Capri Theatre on Wednesday, March 25th. One of the hottest up and coming acts in the country, Ghost Light, will make their first ever stop in the capitol city. Led by guitarist Tom Hamilton (of Joe Russo's Almost Dead), the band also featured famed pianist Holly Bowling, drummer Scotty Zwang (formerly of Dopapod), guitarist Raina Mullen (formerly of Tom Hamilton's American Babies), and bassist Dan Africano. They will be fresh off a major national tour with Greensky Bluegrass, which saw the band play in many of America's most prestigious venues.

Earlier this week, Ghost Light released HD, multi-cam footage from their recent performance at Thunderbird Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA. Check out the complete footage below and make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event for their upcoming show in Montgomery. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.

We recently caught up with two of the founding members of Druids Charity Club, Inge Hill and John Sullivan, who gave us a little more insight on their overall vision for the non-profit efforts and Hog Days of Summer:

"We have diverse musical tastes, but it is our opinion that nothing pairs with BBQ quite like blues and authentic country music, and all of their respective blends and offshoots. With that basic idea in mind, we strive to bring in a first class, family-friendly bill which loosely spans ‘Americana’ and roots influences such as blues, country, folk, bluegrass, and rock & roll.

So much of the popular music we hear on the radio today can be traced back to southern backroads and porches; we feel fortunate to be playing our small part in keeping these musical traditions alive in our community. Community has always been an integral component in both BBQ and this style of music, and therefore, our event. Our focus on the family is why we think the train shed is the best venue around for a multi-generational celebration such as Hog Days. It warms our heart to see kids dancing up front to the same music that is moving their parents. A statue of Hank Williams stands guard outside our venue, so that is a high standard and a long shadow which we try to respect."

- Inge Hill: Druids Charity Club

"We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization made up exclusively of volunteers. We give all of the profits from this event to Hogs for the Cause, a charitable organization which provides financial grants to children with cancer. Often overlooked in the spectrum of cancer treatment is the financial strain placed on a family when their child is diagnosed. Parents are forced to miss work for various reasons, whether it be to sit with their child during treatments or care for them when they are struggling with the side effects of chemotherapy. Many parents lose significant wages or even their jobs in this process. They often get behind on their mortgage, struggle to pay for utilities, or simply cannot afford to drive to Birmingham for their treatments. Our efforts lessen this burden." 

John Sullivan: Druids Charity Club 


Drifter Merch Announces Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam February 14, 2020 10:36

Press Release via Drifter Merch

Drifter Fest: The Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam will be held on March 6th-8th in Charleston, SC. The music-filled weekend will celebrate the life of Drifter Merch founder Bert Griggs who died unexpectedly in December. Bert's designs made an impact on the jam band music scene offering innovative designs that reached far and wide. The festivities kick off on Friday night with a pre-jam from 8-11pm at Home Team BBQ’s downtown location featuring several sets of funk favorites from Shonuff band. Doors for the Drifter Fest: The Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam open at 8pm at the Charleston Pour House.

Inside the venue from 8:30pm-1am, patrons will enjoy a collaboration of Bert’s favorite tunes from many of his friends including Reid Stone and bands Gaslight Street, The Travelin’ Kine, Shonuff, Solid Country Gold and more. The weekend concludes on Sunday from 2pm-5pm at Reckoning in the Park featuring The Reckoning, an awesome Grateful Dead cover band, in the meadow at James Island County Park. Guests will enjoy a weekend of fun events combined with great company, stories and live music. 

Born and raised in Hartsville, Bert Griggs was surrounded by a huge family and lifelong friends as he grew up in the country riding tractors, four-wheelers and being mischievous. Bert later graduated from the College of Charleston with a B.S. in Business Administration. He remained in Charleston after college working in all aspects of the hospitality industry while working for Charlestowne Hotels. It wasn’t long before the mountains called his name and he headed to Jackson Hole to pursue his love of snowboarding. While there, Bert was the sales and marketing director of a hotel group that gave him the opportunity to travel to world-class ski resorts all over the country as an ambassador for Jackson Hole. He met his wife Lorrie while she was vacationing there from Charleston and discovered they both had a love of traveling to see live music and a plethora of mutual friends.

Following a whirlwind romance, they married on April Fools’ Day atop the mountain at Jackson Hole Ski Resort. Together they created Drifter Merch, an apparel company dedicated to their love of music. Soon after, they returned to Charleston where Bert’s passion for graphic design grew as did their business. Their company vended at many shows, festivals, events and handled custom orders for numerous businesses (Google, Vida-Flo, Moe's Original BBQ), bands (Dickey Betts Band, Dead 27s, Travelin' Kine), schools and events. The light of their lives, Harper Grace, was born about a year later. Bert was an amazing father, husband, son, brother, and friend. Bert had an innate ability to make everyone he met feel like they were the most important person in the room. He never met a stranger. In fact, he was everyone’s best friend. He had the sweetest soul and a tender heart that loved hard and loved deeply. Bert had a unique sense of humor with an infectious laugh and smile that could light up the darkest room. He is intensely missed.

For interviews, photos or additional information, please contact Lorrie Dixson Griggs of Eskimo Advertising at lorrie@eskimoadvertising.com.

Artwork by Corey Grantham of Carolina Printing

Artwork by Tripp Shealy: Tripp’s Prints


CBDB & Kendall Street Company Embark on National Tour February 12, 2020 15:29

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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It's already been a huge year for both CBDB & Kendall Street Company, and neither band shows any sign of slowing down anytime soon. Tuscaloosa natives CBDB just finished up a two-week tour with Spafford, which saw them play to capacity crowds at many of the most notable venues in the southeast. They have also confirmed major festival appearances such as The Peach Music Festival and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong's Domefest. Kendall Street Company, which hails from Charlottesville (VA), has recently confirmed a handful of impressive festival plays, such as SweetWater 420 FestivalLOCKN' Festival, and Some Kind of Jam 15. These are two of the hottest rising acts in the country, and what lies ahead should have all music fans fired up.
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The two bands embark on a 20-date national tour next week. The festivities kick off on Wednesday, February 19th at Gasa Gasa in New Orleans (LA) and continue with stops in Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. The tour commences with a huge finale at New York City's Gramercy Theatre on Saturday, March 21st
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Live & Listen is proud to offer an exclusive ticket + merch giveaway for the upcoming tour, which includes two tickets to any show on this run, an official tour poster signed by members of both bands, and a t-shirt from both bands. Simply head over to our Facebook pageshare the post which includes this article, and tag a friend in the comments section to enter the contest. We will select a winner on Wednesday, February 19th at 10AM CST.
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"This new year has brought an incredible new energy that we've been enjoying immensely in our shows. The tour with Spafford was a fantastic experience, and we are riding that wave into our longest national tour to date with another great band in Kendall Street Company. We can't wait to see what unfolds." - Cy Simonton of CBDB
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"We're excited to see what 2020 has in store for us! Along with two (or perhaps three) new records on the horizon, our upcoming Winter Tour with CBDB will take us all across the country in true Woody Guthrie fashion. From Louisiana to Texas, Colorado to Wisconsin, Ohio to Boston, New York City and more. We can't wait to bring our music to new locations and audiences." - Jake Vanaman of Kendall Street Company
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CBDB & Kendall Street Company Tour Dates
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•2/19 New Orleans: Gasa Gasa
•2/20: Houston, TX: Last Concert Cafe
•2/21: Austin, TX: Mohawk
•2/22: Dallas, TX: Three Links
•2/27: Ft. Collins, CO: Avogadros Number
•2/28: Steamboat Springs, CO: Schmiggitys
•2/29: Denver, CO: Cervantes Masterpiece
•3/3: Milwaukee, WI: Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
•3/4 Madison, WI: High Noon Saloon
•3/5 Appleton, WI: The Bent Keg
•3/6 Chicago, IL: Beat Kitchen
•3/7 Grand Rapids, MI: Founders Brewing Company
•3/11 Columbus, OH: The Summit
•3/12 Cleveland, OH: Beachland Tavern
•3/13 Pittsburgh, PA: The Smiling Moose
•3/14 Richmond, VA: River City Roll
•3/18 Baltimore, MD: The 8x10
•3/19 Philadelphia, PA: Boot & Saddle
•3/20 Boston, MA: Middle East
•3/21 New York, NY: Gramercy Theatre
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About The Band: CBDB

CBDB is a progressive rock, jam-band from Alabama and their music is spreading from the southeast across the nation like wildfire. Defining a newfound, southern blend of joyful and progressive rock n roll, they channel a sonic mix of soulful vocals and virtuosic musicianship with smart, tasteful songwriting. On stage, each member of CBDB fluidly plays between complex composition and loose exploratory improvisation creating an incredible and unique live experience.

Watch CBDB's full performance from Variety Playhouse [02.01.20] here:

About The Band: Kendall Street Company

From late night jam sessions at the University of Virginia to main stages at venues and festivals throughout the country, Kendall Street Company has broken the mold of improvised rock and enters a world of jazz-grass infused psychedelic bliss. With no two shows ever the same, word of mouth has quickly grown a ravenous fanbase eager to hear their favorite studio tracks explored and extended as part of a live community. As seasoned KSC fans can tell you, any one of their songs could easily turn from a fun sing-along, into a cacophonous headbanging garage-rock soundscape, to a Klezmer-disco dance party, and then resolve into a peaceful ambient meditation that evokes nostalgia of your childhood.
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Averaging over 100 shows per year since 2013, the band is currently comprised of Louis Smith [Acoustic guitar, vocals], Brian Roy [Bass, vocals], Ryan Wood [Drums], Ben Laderberg [Electric guitar], and Jake Vanaman [Saxophone]. For such a young band, their accomplishments are remarkable. Kendall Street has performed at festivals such as Lockn’, Roosterwalk, Floydfest, Resonance, and Domefest and has opened for acts such as Papadosio, Umphrey’s McGee, Tauk, and Leftover Salmon. All the while, the band has proudly released three records and two EPs on their own label. Their most recent 2019 release, “Lunar Dude” showcases their versatility and virtuosity, and was met with overwhelming support.
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Charging into 2020 at full speed, The Company has no shortage of tunes and stories to share with the world. Their Winter Tour with CBDB will be their biggest yet, bringing them to myriad new locations and audiences. In addition to a hard-working tour schedule, the band has plans to release two (perhaps three!) albums throughout the year. 
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Watch Kendall Street Company's music video for "Lunar Dude" here:
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Back Forty Birmingham Confirms Lineup for Inaugural Music Festival February 4, 2020 11:27

 

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to Back Forty Social

Appearing national touring acts including North Mississippi Allstars, Keller Williams, Spafford, The Soul Rebels, The Motet, Kitchen Dwellers, Ryley Walker and Little Raine Band.

Back Forty Beer Company Birmingham and Big Spring Entertainment are proud to announce the full lineup for the first year “Back Forty Social”, to be held at Back Forty in Birmingham, Alabama. This one-day, all ages music festival will feature eight acts on one main stage and includes multiple genres spanning Bluegrass, Folk, Funk, Americana, Jam Band, and Southern Rock. Tickets start at $40 for the all-day event, and children 12 and under receive free general admission when accompanied by a paying adult.

Officially joining the lineup for the all day event are Jam Band staples Spafford. Spafford is known for their astonishing improvisational ability, which they’ll use to play live off the cuff extended jams. Each song is a blank canvas, and Spafford paints a picture in real time each night with a musical palette known only to each other. It’s a private language comprised of their talent as musicians, and of their formidable catalog of influences - ranging from Steely Dan, electronic acts like The Crystal Method, to 90’s alt rock radio hits. Every show is a sonic pilgrimage – the journey of a team of musicians so in tune with each other that a single note communicates intent and purpose.

Even though the band thrives off the electric pulse of live shows, the same energy also translates into their studio efforts. Their 2018 release “For Amusement Only” hits to the heart of Spafford – tight, inventive, and dexterous musicianship coupled with clever retro-pop inspired songwriting. Songs like “Leave The Light On” highlight their influences – from the melodic styles of Alanis Morissette to the rhythmic bounce of Bob Marley. Other tracks like “Ain’t That Wrong” and “Slip and Squander” are rich with other signature Spafford signs: vibrant vocal harmonies, complex and catchy arrangements, and sparkling, powerful performances.

Artists appearing at The 2020 Back Forty Social include, in order of appearance: Little Raine Band, Ryley Walker, Kitchen Dwellers, The Motet, The Soul RebelsSpafford, Keller Williams, and North Mississippi Allstars.

Admission: Tickets for the Back Forty Social are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com and BackFortySocial.com, with prices ranging from $40 General Admission to $85 VIP. Information about site layout, lineup schedule, and more will be released on the event’s website and social media channels over the next few weeks. 

About Back Forty Beer Company Birmingham: In 2018, Back Forty Beer Company joined Birmingham's thriving craft beer scene with the opening of its new 16-tap microbrewery at Sloss Docks. Freshly brewed beers include Naked Pig, Truck Stop Honey and other core recipes, plus a steady rotation of new experimental beers available only in the local market: Beers like "Crow Point" - their juicy New England IPA, "Hike Out Hefe" - their popular, traditional German Hefeweizen and “Hop Tosh” a perfectly balanced Northwest Coast IPA. Back Forty has a full restaurant with amazing dishes like the Back 40 Cheeseburger, Pizzas and the napinducing Poutine. Customers are invited to grab a beer and a burger and enjoy the dramatic views of Sloss Furnaces at Back Forty Beer Company. Learn more at backfortybeer.com/Birmingham.

About Big Spring Entertainment: is a full-service concert and entertainment promotion company based in Huntsville, AL with offices in Nashville, TN and Birmingham, AL. BSE buys, promotes, and produces events across the South, Southeast, and Midwest specializing in music halls, clubs, theaters, performing art centers, arenas, amphitheaters, and festivals. Big Spring Entertainment is also the owner-operator of The Druid City Music Hall in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Here's a look at what you can expect from this year's lineup!

North Mississippi Allstars

 

Keller Williams

 

Spafford

 

The Soul Rebels

 

The Motet

 

Kitchen Dwellers

 

Ryley Walker

 

Little Raine Band


Spafford & CBDB Deliver Jam-Filled Tuesday in Birmingham January 29, 2020 17:07

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Photos by Craig Baird & Penelope Josephson
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Last night in Birmingham, music fans were treated to one of the more jam-filled occasions in recent memory. Spafford has built a strong reputation for extended jamming and mind blowing improvisation, and this was certainly on full display at Saturn. While the band's winter tour features a number of quality supporting acts, the Birmingham faithful could not have been more excited to see Tuscaloosa natives CBDB added to this show earlier this month.
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Given CBDB's loyal fan base across Alabama, it was no surprise to see such a strong crowd anxiously awaiting as they took the stage. While I've been fortunate enough to see this band on many occasions since 2015, it had been just over a year since we last crossed paths. This would be the first opportunity for many to see the band's new drummer, Chris Potocik, in action. The fan favorite "Ground Score" kicked off the set and ultimately landed in a debut cover of Miles Davis' "Black Satin." Guitarists Kris Gottlieb and Cy Simonton would then lead the band into "Patterns," a track you can find on CBDB's latest album Out of Line.
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Next up was "Smile Real Big," one of the band's staples from their 2012 release Phone Keys Wallet. The upbeat vibe continued as bassist Blake Gallant hit the opening notes of "She's Mobile," an original which may feature my favorite vocal work from Simonton. Just as the band hit their 45-minute mark, they nailed the transition back into "Ground Score" and closed out as the set just as powerfully as it began. 
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The Tuesday night crowd continued to fill in as Spafford prepared to take the stage. Guitarist Brian Moss immediately kicked things into high gear with the opening notes of "All My Friends," and we were off to the races. This would be the beginning of what felt like two marathon sets. We would get our second selection from the band's Taste of Fall 2017 live release as they transitioned into a scorching rendition of "Bee Jam." It's safe to call this one a "jam vehicle," as Tuesday night's take clocked in at just under an hour. One of my personal highlights came in the form of "Settled In," an original which was debuted just over a year ago and played only a handful of times in 2019. While it seemed hard to believe, the nearly 80-minute set featured just three songs, with each featuring the one-of-kind jamming we've come to expect from this band.
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After a brief set break, these guys would pick up right where they left off. Bassist Jordan Fairless hit the opening notes of "It's a Bunch," which was greeted with an emphatic response from the "Spaffnerds" stretched out across the front row. This is the song that won me over back in 2016 and led me to dive deeper into the Spafford catalog. I couldn't have been more pleased to sit back and watch this journey unfold. Moss and keyboardist Andrew "Red" Johnson slowly but surely directed the band into a killer take on Bob Marley's "Exodus." I've always admired this band's overall approach towards covers, and this was as perfect example why. The opening notes of "Windmill" had the entire room grinning from ear to ear and eager for one last raging sing-a-long. 
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If you were hungry for mind-bending jams and sonic exploration, Spafford's performance in Birmingham was just what the doctor ordered. I found it very fitting that they tacked on the classic "Catfish John" for the encore. After the intensity of those three-song marathon sets, this was a perfect and refreshing way to close out the evening. This band seems to be settling in to their new Birmingham home just fine, and we will be anxiously awaiting their next appearance in town.
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Turkuaz Brings Power Funk to Birmingham January 16, 2020 14:18

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Fresh off of a week on Jam Cruise, the nine-piece "power funk army" known as Turkuaz kicked off a three-week tour at Birmingham's Saturn on Wednesday night. While it had been nearly two years since their last appearance, the Birmingham faithful showed up in numbers for an incredibly entertaining night of music. The "new look" Turkuaz may have parted ways with their color coded wardrobe, but the dynamic performance that we've all become accustomed to is stronger than ever. 
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The crowd got a taste of up-and-coming star Neal Francis, whose unique blend of classic rock and roll soul was a huge hit. While I was only able to catch his last few songs, there was a notable buzz surrounding his opening set all day leading up to doors opening. The amount of people who stopped and asked, "Did you catch that opening set?" was very encouraging to see. Francis clearly made his mark on Alabama, and I will certainly be paying closer to attention on he and his band moving forward.
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Turkuaz took the stage in explosive fashion, as expected. "Nightswimming" kicked off the set and gave us the first taste of the band's 2015 release, Digitonium. "Heat Drop" gave us a look into the new EP, Kuadrochrome, which was released in November of 2019. The stroll through Turkuaz history continued with "If I Ever Fall Asleep" and "Gonna Make You Famous," both of which can be found on Life In The City (2018). Bassist Taylor Shell was firing on all cylinders as the band led into "Mister Man," one of five tracks on the 2019 EP Afterlife Vol. 2. While I can't recall exactly which song, saxophonist Greg Sanderson gave us our first dose of the EWI (electronic wind instrument), which is always a super fun touch.
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The set continued with "Got To Get Better" > "The Quesiton" > "Big Business" > "One and Lonely." By this point in the set, the rowdy Birmingham crowd was moving and shaking to every note, soaking up every minute of the dance party at hand. "Coast To Coast" > "Lookin' Tough Feelin' Good" kept the energy at the highest level, before drummer Michaelangelo Carubba led the way for saxophonist Josh Schwartz to light the room on fire with his vocal work on "Babies Making Babies." You would be hard pressed to find any band with the vocal range of Turkuaz. Between Schwartz, frontman Dave Brandwein, and the lovely combo of  Shira Elias and Sammi Garrett, there's just few bands that can even compete. 
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One of the highlights of the set came with "Superstatic," which has got to be one of the best dance tracks of the modern era. I've made a point to keep this one in regular rotation since the release of Life In The City in 2018. Elias took the spotlight for a cover of Donny Hathaway's "Jealous Guy," while an emphatic "Brain Drain" closed down the set. After a brief exit from the stage, we would get one more look at Kuadrochrome with "The Ballad of Castor Troy." 
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While I would have personally loved a second set of Turkuaz, I can't say enough about the 90 minutes of funk-filled jams that ensued. This band continues to climb the ranks of the music world, and every time I see them perform I am reminded why. They're gearing up for a big run of shows with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew of Talking Heads this summer, which includes a co-headliner at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre with The Motet. It's always a treat having this band in the Southeast, and we should all hope this becomes a regular tradition in the future.
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Letting it Slide: A Conversation with Marco Benevento January 15, 2020 02:25

 

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photos by Jean Frank Photography

Calling all Southeast music enthusiasts. We would like to ask you to stop what you're doing and clear your schedule. It's officially one of our favorite times of the year, when keyboard wizard Marco Benevento brings his wildly entertaining three-piece solo project through the heart of the South. The madness kicks off on Thursday night (1/16) in Austin, TX and continues with stops in Houston (1/17), New Orleans (1/18), Birmingham (1/19), Knoxville (1/20), Asheville (1/21), Carboro, NC (1/22), Charlotte (1/23), Charleston (1/24), and Atlanta (1/25).

The band is fresh of its seventh studio release, Let it Slide, and they have never been more dialed in. After taking a totally different approach in the studio, Marco and company have a deeper catalog than ever before. Bassist Karina Rykman and drummer Dave "DB" Butler round out this prolific trio and bring a level of energy that is matched by none. Over the weekend, we had a chance to catch up with Benevento to learn more about Let it Slide and hear all about the band's plans for 2020. See below for the full conversation and make sure to catch these guys (and gals) in a city near you!

I appreciate you taking the time to chat for a few minutes today, Marco. I know that everyone in Birmingham is excited to have you back in town at Saturn on Sunday night. 

Marco: Absolutely. Saturn is such a cool venue man. We've loved playing there the last few stops in Birmingham.
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It really is. One of the newer spots in town. That green room is really next level.
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Marco: It's so dope man. 
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I figured we could start off by talking about the new year. We've officially closed the door on 2019. How did you feel about last year as a whole, and what are some of your goals and resolutions for 2020?
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Marco: Totally. 2019 was an awesome year for us. We put out a new record and had the chance to work with Leon Michels. If you haven't checked him out, I highly recommend you do. You can find his work on Spotify or Apple Music under "El Michels Affair." Working with him this year and releasing the record felt really good. We did almost 40 shows in three months. Something crazy like that. We went to Japan, which was a really cool experience. I guess, going forward, we're going to try and get to Europe. We just got a European booking agent, so I'm excited to go play overseas and see what that feels like. 
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Is that something that you expect to happen this year?
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Marco: Yeah, I do. Most likely later this year. I'm looking forward to everyone getting familiar with the new record and hearing all of the new jams. They're really coming alive when we play them on tour. 
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Did you end up having a New Year's show this year?
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Marco: No, we all had off this year. I actually when to Leon's (Michels) house for a party. We didn't have a gig, which was great. I've obviously been playing and touring for a long time and having a New Year's Eve off is kind of special, honestly. 
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I'd imagine that hasn't been very common in recent years. 
 
Marco: Right. Very true. I've had so many New Year's gigs that have just been madness, especially in New York City. It's super fun, and everyone is so ready to go. It's such a fun holiday, but it's also nice to just have a fire outside in your yard. 
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That's got to be a nice change of pace.
 
Marco: Yeah man. Totally. 
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Watch Marco Benevento's music video for "Let it Slide" here:
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You mentioned the new album, Let it Slide. I've had it playing all morning. This is your seventh solo album, correct?
 
Marco: That's right. 
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I know that they all tell their own story. The writing process and the studio experience are unique in their own right. When you look at this album, how was this different that those of the past?
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Marco: Totally. Working with Leon was a whole new thing. I didn't know him personally when we got together. I met him through our friend Richard Swift, who we put out a record with about five years ago. That record was actually called Swift. Richard is friends with Dan Auerbach and was in that band, The Archs, that Dan started a few years back. Leon was the keyboard player in that band. He and his wife were having a child and had to miss the last week of tour. Richard recommended that I sub in for Leon. 
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I had a chance to get on a tour bus with Dan Auerbach and company and play all of those tunes. I don't know if you've had a chance to check it out, but you should. It's so good. I've been a fan of Dan's for years. I love his voice. So, Richard recommended that I sub for Leon, and I met him as we were overlapping on tour. When I called him about doing the record, I had only met him that one time. We got together, and I played him all of the demos that I made. All of the tunes were kind of demoed out before we met, so we would scroll through them and work on two or three each day. 
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I think we did five total days in the studio. I did a lot of overdubbing here at my own place. We worked on the record pretty casually for about two years, which was a whole new experience for me. I normally get deep into a record and want to finish it, maybe even quicker than it should be done. With this one, we let it simmer for a while. We both made decisions. There was never a single decision made by one individual. Leon and I made this record together. That was a really cool experience for me. I had never really worked with a producer on a record that I made. That was awesome. 
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He had a lot of input and suggested a lot of things to do. Musically, he would come up with some extra chords or propose ideas for some melodies. We also realized that we had a mutual love for tennis. We got super deep into tennis, probably two or three times a week. Our kids are also the same age. The kids would go to school, then we would meet up, play tennis, and work on the record. As soon as the kids were heading home, we would leave to go see our families.
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So, we would play a bunch of tennis, work on the record, and feel really good. Tennis is such a fun, focused game. That's why the cover of the record has that photo on it. Leon actually took that photo of a court we would play on up in Woodstock. 
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Watch Marco Benevento's official music video for "Say It's All The Same" here:
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That sounds perfect. Bonding over the tennis court, creating in the studio, and having a similar family dynamic seems like a winning combination. 
 
Marco: Totally. It was really a shared album. 
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Did Karina (Rykman) end up playing on this album at all?
 
Marco: Karina is not playing any bass on this record. It was actually Nick Movshon, who is essentially Leon's right hand man. You've got to check out these dudes. They will blow you away. They've made so many records together, and a lot of people have sampled their records. He's in a whole other world of music. He's made records with Amy Winehouse, Lee Fields, Charles Bradley, Dr. John, Adele, Lady Gaga, and so many others.
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They're super humble, chill, Brooklyn guys. They're total bad asses. Super good taste in music and recording music, in my opinion. I should also mention that Leon has a record label called Big Crown. He shares it with a couple other people. Any record on Big Crown has been heard through Leon's ears. That's another thing to check out. 
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Nick, Leon, and myself are basically the three musicians on that record. Karina and everyone else had to learn all of the parts. Karina does sing on the record though. She sings backup vocals on a few tunes. She didn't play any bass though. That's just how Leon works. However he wanted to make the record was fine with me. I just rolled with his suggestions.
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Are you still working with Andy Borger on drums?
 
Marco: Andy lives in Portland now. He hasn't been on the road with us for the past year, so we now have D.B. (Dave Butler) playing drums. D.B. has all the moves and knows all the tunes, so it was a pretty seamless transition. Andy moved to Portland, had a kid, and now plays with a band called Pink Martini. He's been super busy doing all of that, so it was tough for him to stay on the road with us. Luckily, D.B. was able to step right in. D.B. also plays with Guster. Luckily, he's also been available to tour with us, which has been super dope. 
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Had the previous albums all been recorded with Andy on drums and Dave (Dreiwitz) on bass, prior to Karina joining the band?
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Marco: Yes, exactly. 
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It goes without saying that the transition from Dave to Karina was pretty amazing as well. Those were mighty big shoes to fill, but my God, Karina is such an entertaining performer. She has quickly become one of the best in the game. 
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Marco: Oh completely. Personally, she's so much fun to be with on the road. It's just never ending laughter. We're having so much fun out there. She brings so much to the table with ripping fuzz bass solos to her singing lead on a few tunes. We have several covers that she sings lead on. It's a nice focus change to have someone else singing as well. I've always liked to have bands that have everybody singing and everyone playing. Sometimes they might even switch instruments. We haven't done that yet, but maybe we will. I've always liked the girl/boy voice combo too.
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Watch Marco Benevento cover Butthole Surfers' "Pepper" at Armore Music Hall here:
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It works so well for you two. The overall vibe that this band creates sparks a nostalgic feeling and has such an appeasing, uplifting sound from start to finish.
 
Marco: Hell yeah. Right on. Thanks Jordan. 
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Karina was one of Dave's students, and he recommended her when Ween was getting back together, right?
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Marco: Totally. It was another seamless transition from Dave to Karina. He knew that the Ween schedule was coming up, and he wasn't going to be able to do all of the dates with me. He basically taught Karina all of my tunes. They would get together, and she learned all of them. He really crushed it in that regard. Not many people leave the band and find their own replacement for you. He was like, "Marco...I can't do these gigs, but I'm going to teach Karina the tunes. She's going to kill it and add so much to the band." 
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Initially, I was like, "No! Dave! Where are you going?!" So, we do our first gig with Karina in Boston, maybe three years ago, and it worked instantly. She was amazing from day one. Dave knew that he wasn't going to be able to juggle all of that, so he totally hooked it up with the amazing Karina Rykman in my band. Now she has her own music, which is really, really good. 
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What a transition it was. I'm sure she knew they were big shoes to fill. It's been a pleasure watching her come into her own as a member of this band. She has a great stage presence, and she couldn't seem to be having any more fun on stage. That's great to see as a fan.
 
Marco: Absolutely.
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As you know, my introduction to you was through the Benevento Russo Duo many years ago. I still remember listening to the Darts album for the first time in 2003. There was so much amazing instrumental music coming from The Duo, and later Garage A Trois. Now, you've become a lyricist and handle a healthy dose of vocals. How has this experience played out?
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Marco: I was just talking to my friend about this the other day. I'm 42 now, so you've known me since I was in my late 20's. Wow, a lot has happened since then, as you know. I was talking to my buddy, and we were both kind of high fiving about where we are. We both finally put out a record where we have figured out that we are fully realized as human musicians. We've realized that we're making fully, whole music. Vocals, lyrics, good arrangements, shorter songs, professional production, all of that. 
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People are kind of rediscovering our band. We've kind of reached a new platform. We are playing bigger rooms. We have all of these new songs, as well as the old songs. We have instrumental music, then we have the heavy rock music led with fuzz bass. We have more "radio friendly" songs now. We were just thinking about how we are fully realized as musicians right now. Of course, it's going to change, and I'll probably say the same thing in 5-10 years. 
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I guess it's a new starting point. There are so many elements of the past in the new music, like playing instrumental material. There are points in our show where we are just playing instrumental tunes. There is a lot of musical interaction and not much singing. It almost feels like you're getting the full gamut of music from almost a classical sounding jazz/rock, to a girl singing a Buzzcocks song, to us singing a Butthole Surfers tune, to an original tune that sounds like something you could hear on the radio. 
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I feel like we have a really nice variety of things to cover on any given night. I like that fact. It's a pretty different show. A lot of tunes seem like they could be from almost different bands. Somehow, it's all one color and one vibe. It becomes our show, and the way we entertain people. It's really cool. I feel like I'm just getting started. I'm really excited for the next year, to see how the music will grow.
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I'm sure it's a totally different experience of telling your story through writing lyrics and finding your voice through the vocal work. It's been a lot of fun to watch from afar. 
 
Marco: Totally, man. 
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To wrap things up, you've had the opportunity to be a part of so many different significant projects. You've seen it all at this point, from the dive bars to some of the biggest festival stages in the world. When you look back on the experience, what is it that you love about these more intimate venues, such as those on this upcoming run of shows?
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Marco: Right. First and foremost, the crowd is so much closer to you. When it's a really great night and everyone is honed in, you can feel it even more in the smaller rooms. The song ends, and it's so loud when the crowd erupts. It's a really cool feeling. We recently played a smaller room in Portland, Oregon, and it was one of those nights. You can just tell that people are good to go. That is a great feeling. You know it, because they're right there in front of you. With some of the festivals, the stage is 10 feet tall, the crowd is past the barriers, and it's more of a sea of people. That's equally as rewarding, obviously, because there are even more people.
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Another aspect is that we get to put on our own vibe with our own show. We get to show people what we have made, and what we are promoting. It's really nice to have an entire room of people listening to your music. I've been a part of several other projects which obviously cover a lot of ground. This is a different thing that allows us to shift the focus. I like knowing that we are showing up at these clubs, and we're putting on a show that we all like from all of the records that we have made. 
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I can imagine how rewarding of an experience that is. 
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Marco: It really is. It's a great feeling. 
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Well, it's been a pleasure catching up. It's been way too long since I've seen this band play, and I'm really looking forward to this weekend. It's been nothing short of amazing to watch your musical story unfold over the years. I couldn't be happier for you and look forward to seeing what's next. 
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Marco: Thanks so much Jordan. See you soon!
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Widespread Panic Bestows Ultimate Trust in New Orleans November 8, 2019 14:44

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Now that I’ve had several days to regroup, it seems fitting to sit down and revisit last weekend’s Halloween festivities with Widespread Panic. After 18 years of seeing this band, I finally had the opportunity to make this special tradition a priority. Halloween is always amongst the biggest annual events for any major touring act, and Widespread Panic never fails to deliver to its fervent fan base. 

Speculation was rampant, as expected, leading into Thursday night’s show. Upon entering UNO Arena, fans were introduced to an elaborate stage setup, which included Christmas decorations, a taxi cab, a wrestling wring, and what appeared to be the back drop of a comedy club. We began wondering if these props could somehow be tied to Andy Kaufman, and this would prove to be the case later in the night. The band took the stage, and immediately invited NOLA’s own George Porter Jr. to join them on stage. Bassist Dave Schools let George take the lead on bass, while he focused his efforts on the rubber chicken, and the band appropriately kicked into The Meters’ “Chicken Strut.” They proceeded to get the entire room singing along for “Hey Pocky Way,” another Meters’ classic. 

The first set continued with The Talking Heads’ “Papa Legba,” and originals such as “One Arm Steve,” “Love Tractor,” “Hatfield,” “All Time Low,” and “Pilgrims” would follow. It had been two and a half years since the last cover of James Taylor’s “Knockin’ Round the Zoo” (JazzFest 2017), which made this set closer that much more raucous. The second set began with the theme to Mighty Mouse playing over the PA, before the band dropped into Bloodkin’s “Henry Parsons Died.” This was followed by a powerful “Surprise Valley” > “Arleen” > “Surprise Valley.” We stomped around the “Old Neighborhood” just before a rockin’ take on “Holden Oversoul.” The next bust out came in the form of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful” (LTP 10/08/14 Montgomery, AL), and “Tallboy” had the whole place going wild. 

The Halloween antics really began taking shape from here. John Bell welcomed REM’s Mike Mills to the stage, and the debut of Lou Reef’s “Perfect Day” was a beautiful surprise. At some point, a man posted up at a small table on stage left, where he proceeded to eat a meal and drink wine. Two more debuts then surfaced in the form of David Bowie’s “Starman” and REM’s “Man on the Moon” both with the help of Mills on guitar/bass and Paul Agostino on keys. “Porch Song” was an absolutely perfect way to close out this set.

The encore was without a doubt one of the more interesting live music experiences of my life. The band returned to the stage with Mills and Agostino, while drummer Duane Trucks was on bass and Dave Schools front and center. I had absolutely no idea what was going on at the time, but Schools proceeded to inform us all that “I Trusted You” for the better part of five minutes (see video below). Two more highly obscure Andy Kaufman nods followed with “This Friendly World” and “Volare,” before tour manager Steve Lopez took the stage to ask the audience to please stop smoking in the building.  This is when things got really bizarre.

John Bell invited the infamous Tony Clifton to the stage. I will go ahead and admit that I didn’t realize this was keyboardist JoJo Hermann until the following day. He began singing about “Tacos” being cheap, before a “heckler” started screaming obscenities at him. Clifton appeared to be fed up with said heckler, told her to suck one, and she jumped on stage to throw multiple drinks at the band. At this point, the band exited the stage, security escorted the woman off stage, the lights came on, and we all wondered, “what the fuck just happened?” The band would immediately offer an emphatic apology to the fans via social media, which proved to be all part of an extensive Andy Kaufman inspired Halloween gag.  Like I said, it was an interesting night, but it was also pure genius, in my humble opinion.

Watch Widespread Panic perform "I Trusted You" here:

The Panic faithful had plenty to discuss leading into Friday night’s show. Was this the last of the shenanigans, or would this be a common theme throughout the weekend?  We wouldn’t see any gags on night two, but Jesus Christ, did we get a hot show. The first set was one big “Bowlegged” > “Chilly Sandwich,” with tunes such as “”Little Lilly,” “Visiting Day,” “Walkin’ (For Your Love),” and “You Got Yours” thrown in the middle. JB had a slight technical malfunction during “Christmas Katie,” which left the frontman singing without his guitar for the first half of the song. The highlight of the set had to be the first “Entering a Black Hole Backwards” since 2014 dropping back into “Chilly Water,” which would then segue back into “Bowlegged.” That is Widespread Panic at its finest. 

 Everyone’s got their own opinion, but for me, the perfect Panic set begins with “Disco" > "Diner.” This smokin' set continued with “Blackout Blues,” “The Last Straw, and “Mercy,” before we got our first “Drums” of the weekend. They came back out guns blazing with “Chainsaw City” and “Four Cornered Room,” then “Jack” led straight into a “Red Hot Mama” from Louisiana that nearly brought the house down. The band revisited the 2017 Halloween show with The Dillards’ “There is a Time,” which was originally performed on the Andy Griffith Show, and Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” would put the finishing touches on a damn near flawless show.

I think we were all convinced that it was Sunday at this point, but fortunately, this run began on a Thursday night. What was left in the tank for Saturday? We were in for a treat…that’s for sure. We started with a flashback to Pulp Fiction when guitarist Jimmy Herring ripped into “Rumble,” an instrumental by Link Wray & His Ray Men. The set continued with Tom Waits’ “Goin’ Out West” and “Greta,” and “Climb to Safety” would follow. Being that this song has become somewhat of a Panic anthem (even though it’s Jerry Joseph’s song), it’s reputation is somewhat controversial. I, for one, will never get tired of hearing it. On this night, I experienced one of the more euphoric body highs of my life during the first chorus. Every hair of my body was standing on edge, and it felt really fucking good.

“Junior” and “Makes Sense to Me” were next on the list, just before one of the weekend’s most exciting moments. Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville joined the band for an amazing sequence of “Sleepy Monkey” > “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” (Dr. John) > “Cream Puff War" (Grateful Dead). Does it get any hotter than that?  The second set was equally as impressive. We were off to the races with “Radio Child” and “Thought Sausage.” Another bust out surfaced with John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s “The Ballad of John & Yoko.” “Honkey Red” set a super heavy, serious tone, before an absolutely perfect “Driving Song” was played. “Breathing Slow” led into another rager, “Impossible,” and Vampire Blues came next. “Pigeons” is always a treat, especially when “Papa’s Home” is looming in the distance. Trucks and percussionist Sonny Ortiz led us through another impressive “Drums,” which landed back into “Papa’s” just in time for a set closing “Action Man.” 

While I’ve seen several nods to the late Col. Bruce Hampton, it had been about eight years (02/14/11) since I had seen Panic play “Basically Frightened.” This would begin the encore and lead perfectly into “Blue Indian.” It then appeared that “Postcard” would close out the weekend. Per usual, the entire building was ready to shout, “This town is nuts. My kind of place. I don’t ever wanna leave.” Not so fast, y’all.  We were treated to a reprise of “I Trusted You,” and I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard. Are you kidding me?

There were high expectations for my first Halloween with Panic, and this band never lets me down. What almost seemed like a page out of the Phish playbook made this weekend as unique as any I’ve experienced. These musical journeys always seem to leave us feeling recharged and grateful for this fortunate life we live. There is nothing I’d rather do than embark on a weekend of mayhem with some of the best friends you could ever ask for, along with one of the greatest bands to ever take the stage.


All Things Equal 5 of 7: An Interview with Jimmy Herring & Kevin Scott September 18, 2019 12:11

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Interviews and artist spotlights have always been the "bread and butter" of Live & Listen. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to talk with so many amazing artists, in an effort to learn more about their current endeavors and share these stories with as many people as possible. Earlier this week, I was asked if I had interest in chatting with famed guitarist Jimmy Herring, who just kicked off a major tour with his latest project, The 5 of 7. That was obviously an easy decision. 

Many know Jimmy's work as lead guitarist for Widespread Panic, Aquarium Rescue Unit, and Jazz is Dead. This conversation focuses on The 5 of 7, which features the likes of Kevin Scott (bass), Matt Slocum (keys), Rick Lollar (guitar/vocals), and Darren Stanley (drums). The group shares one common thread: they're all students of the late Col. Bruce Hampton. As you'll read below, this commonality continues to shape and influence their approach to music and life in general. 

The 5 of 7 continue their tour tonight in Iowa City and will continue trekking across the United States through early October. After a month long break, which allows Jimmy to reunite with his Widespread Panic band mates for weekends in Milwaukee & New Orleans, the 5 of 7 will continue through the Southeast, before closing things out with a multi-night run in Tokyo, Japan. See below for our full conversation with Jimmy and Kevin Scott!

Let’s get right to it. Your latest project, The 5 of 7, kicked off the tour in Colorado over the weekend. What did you take away from this band’s first official performances?

Jimmy: Yeah man. The whole idea was, in my mind...I wanted to work with some younger musicians. I'd already been working with Kevin (Scott) from the last band. Matt Slocum too, of course. They had another band, King Baby, that just blew me away. I loved Rick (Lollar) and really wanted to work with a singer. I couldn't imagine anyone else. As soon as I heard him, I thought, "This guy is great. Let's work with him." Darren Stanley (drums) had been working with Bruce (Hampton), and I'd heard him a few times. I was just knocked out by him. Kevin told me that they had a real chemistry together. So, that seemed like a no brainer. We just got together, with no gigs on the books, just to see how it felt. Nobody wanted any money. No one needed a hotel room or a flight. We just got together for fun, and we knew the first day, you know? I was like, "This is gonna be blast." 

What did I take away from the first gig? Nothing's ever perfect. We know that. Every gig has gotten better so far though. The first night was Denver, then Fort Collins was better, and then Boulder was even better. So...I'm really looking forward to Iowa City tomorrow night. We're having a lot of fun out here. 

Now you've had two days to hopefully rest and regroup. What does an off day look like for you on this tour?

Jimmy: You'd be laughing. Sleep 'til 2:00 PM. (laughs) The other guys don't do this. I'm older now. Sleep 'til 2:00 PM. Wake up. Stumble into the lobby. Drink coffee. Laugh at everybody. Go back to the room and make a phone call. Come back. Laugh again. Get another cup of coffee. Tell some Bruce stories. Laugh some more. Then, maybe talk about...I don't know man. That's all we've done so far. (laughs). 

Has there been a particularly good Bruce story that you guys have relived this week?

Jimmy: There's probably been several. The one just we told five minutes before we called you was how he said he didn't want us to be skinny. He wanted us to get fat. He said we sounded better when we were fat.

Kevin: Always. 

I suppose there may be some truth to that. 

Kevin: B.B. King. Albert King. 

Jimmy: That's right. The fatter the better. 

Kevin: Bernard Purdie. Fat. 

Jimmy: The fatter you get, the better tone. (laughs)

Incredible. I'm sure it's been amazing to see this band come to life. We've covered some of this already, but what else can you tell me about how this lineup fell into place?

Jimmy: One thing I didn't say is that Kevin is the conduit between the worlds. He has had his finger on the pulse of what's happening in the Atlanta music scene for years. He's who I went to and said, "Let's try something different. I want to work with a singer. Who else is in Atlanta?" Man, I've lived in Atlanta since 1986. I got in Bruce's band three years later. And since then, I haven't been to Atlanta. (laughs)

You know what I mean? We're touring all the time. I really didn't know what was happening in Atlanta. These younger people started coming into my life, like Kevin and Duane (Trucks), and they'd tell me, "You've gotta hear this guy." I started meeting guys like Kebbi (Williams) who plays in Derek Trucks' band (Tedeschi Trucks Band). All the things he has done on the side. Kevin had that jam going on in Atlanta. I may not have been there for every one. I went to a few. I really enjoyed it a lot. I like to play with people with enthusiasm. He knows them all, and he's got that enthusiasm. He's kind of the architect of the band. 

That's a great architect to have. You've had the opportunity to be a part of countless projects. How does the dynamic of this particular group continue to push you as both a guitarist and a person?

Jimmy: We have a great variety of music. It never gets boring, because it delves into all of the music we play and the spontaneity that might happen. The thing I love about playing with these guys, well, there's a lot. One of them is that they won't take you to that place at an inappropriate time. You know? Inappropriate is subjective. We could be playing a ballad, and there might be a few things that happen in the music that take us toward a Zambi direction. I don't have to worry that it won’t come back. These guys are young, but they're mature. They follow and listen to each other. 

If you hear a guy play something a little left of center, the other guys will react, but if the person with the ball doesn't continue in that direction, then it's just a little funny moment, and then it goes back. There's always the threat that it might completely ascend into a spontaneous moment that might last longer than a moment. You know what I mean? I've played with a lot of other people when it might go to that place and never come back. And that's cool too, but this is not that. 

We're trying to play songs without putting ourselves in prison of being stuck by the song. A song shouldn't be pre-thought out, and it shouldn't just do one thing in one certain spot. I think we're walking that line pretty well, don't you Kevin? 

Kevin: Oh yeah. For sure.

Jimmy: That's the hope. That keeps me going, man. The youth and exuberance of these guys… Everybody wants to be here, and everybody gets to play. Nobody feels like they're just the background band and I'm gonna take every solo. We don't want to do that. We want everyone to get to get a chance play and interact with one another. Part of that is being able to write music that makes that possible. Hopefully, we'll write more music together. We've got some, but we want more. 

We're playing some of my tunes from the past. Some of King Baby's tunes. We're doing a few covers. It's still interesting, and there's everything from ballads to funk and blues. Leanings towards jazz, but I wouldn't call it jazz, per say. We have R&B music in there. All of the things we love are a part of what we're doing. We try to pace the set where it's not too many of the same things in a row. We have a lot of tunes with extended improvisation for each band member. We're trying not to put those all in a row. That way it's not the same thing for 35-40 minutes. You know what I mean.

Absolutely. I'm sure you're well aware that you have one of the more attentive audiences around, and you've got to keep them guessing.  

Jimmy: Man, it's amazing how wonderful they are. They are perfectly willing to go anywhere you want to go. It's really wonderful.

Have you noticed that this is a pretty common thread with your fans with both ARU and Panic as well?

Jimmy: Yeah, I would say that. Absolutely. Panic fans are just up for anything. They don't get bored if you go on an extended improvisation. They're loving it. And when they come to these these shows and support what we're doing, I'm so grateful. It goes all the way back to the ARU days. We started playing with Panic back in those days. We were opening them with Bruce's band, and it gave us a whole new audience. Through playing with Panic, we met the guys from Phish and Blues Traveler, and we toured with them, opening for them back in the day. It's really still with us today.

It's funny. The world seems to want to put you in a category or genre, and we don't really think about music that way. We just like music. We don't really draw a line in the sand and say, "This is jazz. This is blues. This is improvisation. This is bluegrass." We don't really think in those terms. Everyone is really stylistically diverse, and it just seems like the audience loves all of it. It's just a gift to give, to be able to blow down the walls between genres with no apologies. We're lucky. 

I can only imagine how rewarding that is on your end. So, how about you, Kevin? What type of impact has building this relationship and playing with Jimmy had on you? 

Jimmy: Don't make me cry, Kevin. Don't make me cry!

Kevin: I've always had a weird way of putting something in my head and saying, "I'm gonna do this." When I was younger, obviously Bruce's influence on me as a person and musician was huge. But one of the first times I heard Jimmy play guitar, I was 16 years old, and I was like, "I'm gonna work with that guy one day. It's gonna happen." The difference between what Jimmy does versus any other guitar player on the planet, and I've worked with a lot of them in the jazz/fusion realm, the way he plays is who he is. Sure, when it comes down to musicianship or guitar playing, he's number one, but as a person, he's number one. That's why people are drawn to him. That's why we go play clubs, and there are 800 people in Colorado. He appeals to people because of who he is. That's something you really can't teach somebody. 

The impact of as a musician, for me, a guy like him giving everyone in the band equal opportunity. That just does not happen. A lot of other bands that I've worked with, I've essentially had to answer to someone in a certain way in terms of my playing or personality. Jimmy has given everyone the opportunity to be in a band where are no side men. That's the big difference. He gives everyone complete freedom to be themselves, just like Bruce did. That's the biggest impact I've experienced. That's the way I try to lead a band too. 

Working with Jimmy has definitely had the biggest impact on me as a person and my career. He's kind of set a bar that's impossible for people to get to. In this band in particular, it's the first time I've ever been in a situation on the road where on the stage, I'm completely confident. I don't have any kind of blockage to being myself. In every other project I'm in, there is essentially a certain hat that I'll have to put on, and that's good. I love all of the projects I'm a part of, and I think the music is great. In this particular band though, I'm 100% myself. I see other people who have to be someone else when they go to work for someone. I'm saddened by that. 

Jimmy: I mean, why would you hire a guy who beautifully plays his or herself, but yet you're gonna say, "No. Put that in a little box over here. We'll use that only doing certain parts of the show, or not at all." I don't understand that. We're all in this thing together. You can't do it any other way, in my opinion. We're all on the stage. Everyone's voice is combined together, and that's what makes the big picture. Why would you want to stifle that in any way?

I'm blessed, because I'm lucky enough to have a great life in music. This thing we're doing here, this is just cake. It really is. It's so easy to go out and do this. It might be a rough tour schedule, but when we get on stage and get to playing, that's the easy part. It's all that easy stuff that makes it hard. The food wasn't good, or you didn't get a good night of sleep. Whatever. With those kinds of things entering the picture, why would anyone want to complicate it more by telling someone that they can't be themselves?

You mentioned that there are at least a handful of new originals in the mix. I was curious to know how the songwriting process is playing out with this band in particular.

Jimmy: You want to take this one, Kevin?

Kevin: Sure. Someone brings a sketch to the table, and then we all comment on it. That's what is so beautiful about it as a band. Obviously, there are songs with pre-written parts that have been around for a while. In terms of a new song, Jimmy might say, "Alright. I've got this progression. What can we do with it?" Rick might suggest lyrics over it. It's just open communication, which is the basis of success of anything. 

Jimmy: Absolutely, and we had the luxury of getting together without gigs on the book. The first time we got together was last November, so it's been almost a year, but with no pressure. That's what I wanted more than anything, to work with some young, enthusiastic musicians who were like, "Let's see what we can do with this. Let's see where it goes." There was no pay for the rehearsals. There were no hotel rooms. 

Kevin: I've gotta tell him the story of the load-out. 

Jimmy: Oh yeah.

Kevin: We basically had to load out all of the gear for the tour from a box truck with no lift. We had the (Hammond B3) and a case that weigh 400 pounds. We did all of this as a band. There wasn't a single person that left. We all could've said, "I don't want to do this. This isn't my job." Everyone was in there, in the trenches, lifting this heavy ass shit and getting it done. Everyone took responsibility and said, "Let's knock this out as fast and safe as we can." It was actually a good moment to begin the tour. 

Jimmy: These guys wouldn't let me help with the B3. I wanted to, but they wouldn't let me do it. We've got all these strong young people. I'll say this though. I can't imagine doing a gig without a B3 organ. It's heavy. It's a game changer. It changes your travel plan. If it weren't for the B3, we could rent a cargo van, stuff the gear in there, and we would be just fine. We could save tons of money. But you know what? Without the B3, where is the Earth? We need the B3. The B3 is critical to what we're doing. And Matt Slocum is a master of it. 

Kevin: An absolute master. 

Jimmy: The idea of touring without a B3 is just not an option. So yeah, I'd get down there and lift that damn B3, because I don't want to go to the next town without it. Even guys who aren't playing the B3 know how important it is. 

You really can't replicate the sound of the B3. So Jimmy, this tour puts you back on the road a bit more; hopping from one city to the next. It can be a grueling lifestyle, but I know there's some excitement about getting back out there as well. What do you enjoy most about touring and playing the more intimate venues?

Jimmy: I would say that the camaraderie is probably number one. You're in the trenches together. And let's face it, a lot of people have it a lot worse. We've all had it a lot worse. There are people calling me that I've known for 30 years going, "What are you doing to yourself? You're 57 years old!" There's just a rhythm you get into with a band playing a schedule like this. You don't have a twelve man crew. You have a three or four man crew. The musicians help each other. Setting each other’s rigs up, you know? 

It's hard to tear down your own rig, because people are still in the room screaming at you. "Kevin! Kevin!" 

Kevin: They aren't screaming my name.

Jimmy: Oh yeah they are. They're screaming everybody's name. If they see you on stage after the show, they'll be screaming at you. But setting up your rig when no one’s around, that's easy to do. We all take part in that. It makes things easier for the four crew members we have, which are wearing five hats a piece. One guy is the tour manager, merch guy, spiritual leader, and God knows what else. You've got a guy who is guitar tech, bass tech, and keyboard tech. Then you've got another guy driving the bus. He’s out there lifting gear, and he shouldn't be. That's not his job, but everybody wants to help. I like that, and that's one of the things I take away from a tour like this.

That's not to say that I don't love when there's a twelve man crew. You show up, and everything is already done when you walk in the door. That's great. This is a different thing. I feel like with the smaller venues, well, "small" is relative. If we can't fit on the stage, I don't like that. If we're playing a venue that is too small for our footprint on stage, I'm not happy about that. When I say small, I mean any place that has a big enough stage for this five-piece band's equipment, and we do have a lot of equipment. The reason is because in this day and age, you've got Kemper and ax effects for guitar players where they plug into a computer, and it goes to the house. There are no speakers on stage. Bass player is playing through computers. Keyboard player is playing through jack-of-all-trades keyboards, or a computer. 

This whole mass castration of rock and roll; where you can't play louder than we're talking right now without offending someone. I don't know what to say to those people. I think I would say, "If our band is too loud for you, I'm sorry. Don't come here." We're playing with 40 watt guitar amps. Kevin's got a SVP bass amp. It's only the sound of a generation, you know? This is the music that made us want to play. So why would we be worrying about offending someone? That's what we love. As long as we can fit on the stage, we're gonna set up close together, where we can feel each other’s sweat and communicate better with each other. 

I guess I cut my teeth with Bruce in these little rooms. There is a thing that you get there that you just don't get in the bigger venues. You can call it more intimate. That's one thing. It is more intimate. The people are literally like five feet in front of you. I love that, and I don't want to hurt anyone with volume. You know, it is weird sometimes to look at the front row and realize someone's face is right in your speaker cabinet. I'll tell people to put their ear plugs in. We'll cover up the speakers with something to help keep from hurting anyone. We certainly don't want to hurt anyone, but I don't want to play through a 12-watt amp. You know what I mean?

I don't think your audience would want that either.

Jimmy: They probably wouldn't, man. But you've got to have a room that can contain these five people. If you're in a room that's too small that can't contain the sound of these five people, that's probably not good. I mean, I know that we'll be in some rooms like that. Those first three gigs we did, none of those rooms were that small. They aren't too small for our sound. We had The Gothic in Denver, The Aggie in Ft. Collins, and The Fox in Boulder. What does The Fox hold, like 700 people?

Kevin: Probably.

Jimmy: But it has a real stage, and we can fit on it. That room is big enough to contain our sound. We're in heaven. 700 people. That's perfect. That's what I take away from all of this. It's just fun, and it gets you back to what made you want to play in the first place. 

Love hearing that. Just one more thing before we wrap this up. I know it's early, and you guys all have busy schedules, but what do you see for the 5 of 7 beyond this fall? Is this a project we could see continue and evolve?

Jimmy: The idea of it was that we would play this tour and see how we all felt about it. Having played three shows, I can say that if keeps going like this, yes it's happen again. As long as everyone in the band wants it to, and they feel like doing more. From what I've experienced thus far, I want to play more. But I'm older now. This is part of the problem. I'm older, and I love to play, man. Sometimes touring can be tough. It's not really the touring though. It's that commitment you have to make a year in advance, where you see your whole life laid out on a calendar. 

It's like someone picking your clothes out for you and saying, "Here's what you're wearing on Tuesday, Wednesday..." Sometimes it's hard to make that commitment. Now that people don't buy albums like they used to, touring is a crowded place to be. I mean, we've always toured. That's our thing. We've always made records, but it's not like the records have sold enough to stay at home. We weren't Steely Dan, you know what I'm saying? 

The point being, I'm just older now. You’re at the end of a tour, and people are already looking to book dates 12 months out. I'm like, "What? Wait a minute. I just want to go fishing. I don't want to think about this right now." Sometimes I just want to hide for a little bit after a tour. If I have some time, I want to see my family, go out in the woods, and do some things I didn't get to do when I was younger. 

I'll probably be holding it back from being all it can be. If we were to tour 180 shows a year...oh my God, it might be able to get bigger if we toured that much. That's what it would take to make it really take off. You've got to be on the road all the time. I don't want to do that. I hope the other guys can be patient with me. 

Having said all of that, after this tour, if I feel like I feel right now, I'll be willing to talk about the next batch of dates within two months after we finish. I mean, I still play with Panic, and we don't tour anymore, but we will play a lot of shows. That's the number one priority. I can't do anything that gets in the way of that. Sometimes I have to wait and see what the Panic plans are before I can do anything else, and that's fine. I love those guys, and I love being in that band. I'm sure we will play more though. So far, everybody loves each other, and we're having fun.  

Watch Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7 performing in Denver here:

Video by Coloartist


Tyler Neal Band Celebrates Album Release at The Vista Room September 12, 2019 13:08

Photos by Donna Winchester

Words by Rob Winchester

Tyler Neal took the stage on September 7th at The Vista Room in Atlanta to celebrate the release of his new album titled “Nothing To Lose”. Tyler was accompanied by his band, which included Franher Joseph on bass, Chad Mason on keys, and Kee Turnage on drums.  ​
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Tyler has a remarkable craft for song writing and an equally measured ability for the live show. He possesses an almost (and I use this term lightly) innocent grin with a hint of nervousness. Not the bad nervousness, this is a good kind. The humble kid next door catching his break, while crossing his fingers and knocking on wood, in hopes he doesn’t wake up tomorrow from the dream that is Tyler Neal. I should clarify, this is no dream for Tyler. This is destiny. He is a natural with a clear directive, including a passport and marching orders handed down from Col. Bruce Hampton himself. It was this venue that Col. Bruce maintained a residency and while doing so, he enlisted the young and talented Tyler Neal to lead his band. Tyler returned to The Vista Room Saturday night poised for his very own musical offering. This was not lost on Tyler, as he respectfully set aside one empty chair, stage right, for Col. Bruce. An homage for his dear friend and mentor.​
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Tyler started the show with a slide intro that set the tone for the evening.  This was a song that might as well have been the anthem for the evening, “People Get Together”. A welcoming to the unity and overall good vibe that Tyler will continue to serve up for the rest of the evening.​
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The set continued with another track off of the new album. Stand up and witness, my brothers and sisters, Tyler and company took us to church. A gospel infused tune with Mason (keys) accenting in all the right places coupled with Neal’s pulpit worthy howl, reminding you to let some things go, “There Ain’t Nothing You Can Do.” This Saturday night at The Vista Room, we are treating our ears to some good music on a simple solution of Keys, Bass, Drum and a Six String. ​
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Over the course of the evening, we received 2 sets that provided more of Tyler’s original music as well as some impressive covers such as “I Got A Woman” (Ray Charles), “Hey Pocky Way” (The Meters) and “Wish It Would Rain” (The Temptations). Midway through the first set we also hear another original from the album “Hello My Old Friend”.  A good example of how Tyler can reach into a time period and pull out an original song showcasing his talents. Tyler and his band ended the night with the title track off of the new album “Nothing To Lose.”  From his unmistakable howl to his delicate slide guitar, he gave us all a good taste of what we will find on the new album. A medley of Motown, Gospel and Blues Rock brought together on one stage for us all to enjoy while we dance and forget about our troubles.   ​
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In between sets, we sat down for a quick Q&A with Tyler, which can be read in full below!
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Tell us something about yourself that we might not know.
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“I was born in Alaska. ‘92. I speak spanish. Pretty good spanish. I moved to Carrolton, Ga when I was three. Carrolton, Ga out in the middle of nowhere. My back yard had a fence that backed up to a cow pasture.”​
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What would you be doing if you weren’t playing music?
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“I’d probably have finished school and been an ESOL Teacher. Which is English as a second Language. Because I love spanish and a lot of my best friends growing up were foreign. I feel like it would be really cool... to be a connection for someone that didn’t speak the language. And you know, help them feel comfortable and help integrate them."​
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Acoustic or Electric?​
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"Electric. Because here’s the thing. With Electric you can still play soft.​
With Acoustic, the ceiling is really low.​"
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Can you share any news on recent collaborations?
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"This past year I did an album with Joey Sommerville called Papa J Sez that’s set to release early next year. Yonrico Scott and I just started working on a record that should be out early next year that we will be touring behind as early as next year. Also, Tyler “Falcon” Greenwell from Tedeschi Trucks Band and I have been working on a record of mine that should be out later next year."
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A Wish List, Who would like to collaborate with in the future?​
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“Oliver Wood or Jim Lauderdale and... Willie Nelson. Stevie Wonder. Those are shooting  up there really high. Right now I’m Collaborating  with Cool Breeze. I’m helping him do a record. We’re doing a record, ‘Damn’ Ol’ Cool & The Dead Angle’  So y’all watch out.”​
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For Tour Dates and Merch including the new album, head over to TylerNealBand.com
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